With Black Lives Matter protests happening around the nation and the world following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks, among too many others killed by police officers, and a general feeling of civil unrest that we're in a time of great and needed change in our country, it's more important than ever that Juneteenth gets its due.
The day, which combines the phrases "June" and "19th," has long been called to become a federal holiday, as it marks the true ending of slavery in the United States. While President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation went into effect Jan. 1, 1863, it wasn't until June 19, 1865, that General Gordon Granger and his Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and any enslaved people were freed by executive order.
Celebrations over the years have included people marking African American liberation with songs, dance, games and similar readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, among other rituals. Here is how celebs are publicly celebrating Juneteenth in 2020.
The Kitchen star spoke onstage at the Comic and Hollywood Communities Coming Together to Mark Juneteenth Anniversary of Freedom in West Hollywood, California, on June 19.
The Bravo babe had a ball at Eva Marcille's Juneteenth party. "Thank you @evamarcille for an amazing day celebrating #Juneteenth," Moore captioned a series of pics posted to Instagram. "@thebrooklyndaly didn’t want to leave and your family and friends are just as woke as you are. We love you!"
Alicia Keys and John Legend
The GRAMMY winners faced off in an epic Verzuz battle in honor of Juneteenth, which included both playing their hits as well as debuts of new music -- "Never Break" for Legend and "Perfect Way to Die" for Keys.
Queen Bey dropped a Juneteenth-inspired single called "Black Parade." "Happy Juneteenth Weekend! I hope we continue to share joy and celebrate each other, even in the midst of struggle. Please continue to remember our beauty, strength and power," she wrote on Instagram alongside the music announcement. "'BLACK PARADE' celebrates you, your voice and your joy and will benefit Black-owned small businesses."
The California native also released a new song on June 19 titled "I Can't Breathe," which pays homage to the late George Floyd.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta star is on a mission to highlight Black-owned businesses in July, but she started early by propping two up on Juneteenth: Zee Bee's Custom Bling and UNOIA.
The "Truth Hurts" singer shared a video of herself posing on the steps naked, with just her long locks covering her body, as she's surrounded by six glowing red candles. In it, she announced that she'll be doing a silent auction and a raffle to give back to black organizations, specifically in the Twin Cities, as Lizzo lives in Minneapolis and the city is also where George Floyd was killed. "Happy Juneteenth, y'all. This year we're doing Juneteenth in a major way," she proclaimed in the clip.
"Black Baby Joy for this beautiful day of celebration, reflection, community and freedom. #Juneteenth ???✊?," the L.A.'s Finest star captioned a cute video of her daughter, Kaavia, brushing her own hair, which was geotagged with "Juneteenth Celebration."
Chance the Rapper
The GRAMMY-winning rapper joined Antoinae Goodman, Joshua Achillez Cochran and Troi Warren for the Pre-Juneteenth Joy Ride in Chicago on June 18.
"A BLESSED FREEDOM DAY TO ALL.❤️QL????✌?❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️?," the Jersey rapper captioned a gorgeous photo of herself.
The singer explained to Billboard why her fourth studio album, The Album, ultimately dropped on June 19, saying, "I've always been about us being celebrated and celebrating my culture and my people. For everything to happen, from my album getting delayed and it falls perfectly on Juneteenth, yes, it's a celebration."
Jada Pinkett Smith
The 48-year-old actress hosted an emotional episode of Red Table Talk on June 19, discussing racism in America with her daughter, Willow, her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, as well as activists Dr. Angela Davis and Tamika Mallory. She started off the episode by noting the significance of Juneteenth before replaying an excerpt from the devastating video of former police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the late George Floyd's neck in Minneapolis, which went viral and sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism. The group had an emotional reaction to the video, with both Pinkett Smith and her 19-year-old daughter visibly fighting back tears as Floyd called out to his mother. "When I watched the George Floyd video, just the amount of restraint just for me to remain steady," the Gotham alum said. "I don't think that people understand the amount of pain and then the anger that goes along with it and the trauma."
"HAPPY JUNETEENTH!!!!!!!! The white hat is ON once again…because today we're celebrating ALL black Americans. Yup. All of us. We’ve #HandledIt for CENTURIES," the Scandal star captioned an Instagram video of her dancing and speaking about June 19. "Way before Olivia Pope was even a thought in @shondarhimes’s mind. and I’m so excited to celebrate us today. While this moment we’re in feels so special and so invigorating, I want to us to keep in mind that this fight is far from just beginning, and it’s far from being over. Register to vote, keep up the momentum. Be counted in the census. Believe in liberation! And spread love to everyone, because ALL black lives matter. Love you all, #HappyJuneteenth ?✊??✊??✊??."
The "Worth It" rapper got the crowd hyped up at the Juneteenth Voter Registration Concert & Rally at Atlanta's Murphy Park Fairgrounds.
The Think Like a Man star rocked a "Phenomenally Black" tee on Juneteenth. The shirt was created by the Phenomenal Woman organization as a campaign to lift-up ongoing protests against anti-Black racism and police violence, and all proceeds benefit Black Future Labs, a non-profit founded by Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza aiming to build Black political power.
"Happy Juneteenth. Today is our independence day, so let's be independent," the rapper began his Instagram video. "I know you've been hearing me talk about a black dollar, and I'm also serious about it. We must. We have to. We have no choice. We've made these brands and companies millions and millions of dollars hand over fist with our hard-earned money to become walking and talking billboards for these brands, but they never invest in us. They never invest in our communities. They never invest in our dreams. They never invest in our kids. They never invest in our future -- college funds, so on and so forth. So what I propose is let's get on the same page, because if they're not cool with us anymore, they're not cool at all. Nobody cares. We are the culture. We make things cool."
The "Triggered" singer took to her Instagram Story to post the hashtag "#HappyJuneteenth" along with red, black and green heart emojis.
The A Wrinkle in Time star shared one of the cutest posts, a video of her dancing excitedly during her virtual high school graduation earlier in the week. "Today is JUNETEENTH. A holiday where we celebrate our freedom. A celebration to finally take up space undeniably," she began her caption. "On Wednesday, I OFFICIALLY became a high school graduate. Man, what a liberating feeling to not only step into this next phase of my life with the privilege of being beyond blessed and highly favored, but I’m also unapologetically myself. I vow to continue to take up space in this world as young black woman, strive to live up to my fullest potential and continue to be a change-maker in this world because we all know we have a lot of work to do. Xo. Happy Juneteenth y’all. ♥️."
In an op-ed for The Washington Post published on June 19, the 41-year-old singer advocated for making Juneteenth a federal holiday. He also explained the T-shirt he wore back in 2015 at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, which had the words "July Fourth" crossed out and replaced with "Juneteenth." "I have no issue with celebrating America’s independence on July 4," he wrote. "For me, wearing the shirt was an opportunity to inform others who may not necessarily know the history of black people in America, and who are not aware that Juneteenth is our authentic day of self-determination. It is ours to honor the legacy of our ancestors, ours to celebrate and ours to remember where we once were as a people. And it should be a national holiday, observed by all Americans."
Alongside a lengthy message about the importance of Juneteenth, the former president posted an incredibly moving photo of him and a group of marchers at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, in 2015, when they marked the 50th anniversary of the marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.
Sterling K. Brown
"#HappyJuneteenth #SavingOurselves," the This Is Us star captioned his Instagram video. "One small step towards ending generational poverty, and creating generational wealth. ???."
The actress shared a still from her movie, Miss Juneteenth, along with the caption, "Black DP. Black writer/director. Woman writer/director. Black cast. Female leads. Shot in Texas commemorating #juneteenth *****Alignment*****." She also spoke to ET about the holiday, saying, "I think in Texas, because it happened there, there’s perhaps a stronger tradition of it. It’s something that I had heard of, in a mom and pop restaurant or something like that. It wasn’t until college while I was doing a play about that time period that I had read about it, and really it’s not something that is celebrated on a national level. There is no real commemoration of emancipation or the end of that particular terrible time in our history. So I wonder if this is a moment where that can start to be a part of the national narrative… Juneteenth is a holiday we should all be aware of.”
"Sending Afro LOVE on this #juneteenth #naturalhairstyles #naturalhair," the Girlfriends alum captioned her selfie.
The Underground star posted a gorgeous selfie to Instagram, captioning it, "Smile! Today we celebrate #HappyJuneteenth when our extraordinary ancestors were finally all notified of their freedom. ? As laws evolved, new ways were found to continue to oppress our people. Today, Juneteenth, we ALL have an opportunity to celebrate the enormous contributions of African Americans, our heroes and heroines. And to renew our commitment to actively participating in the demand for justice! ? #ThePrideThePromiseTheCommitmenttoourAncestorsLegacyofExcellenceContinues #sendingyoulove."
The 13-time GRAMMY winner joined Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in announcing Juneteenth as a state holiday. "A paid holiday is just the start—to stand in solidarity with Black employees and with all Black people," Williams wrote alongside his video.
The newlywed shared a proud statement alongside an infographic posted to Instagram, writing, "✊?✊?✊?JUBILEE DAY✊?✊?✊?. Stand strong in holding the establishment responsible for the injustice going on till this day. ??Slaves were physically freed this day in 1865 ???but? emotionally and systematically in-prisoned to be kept from succeeding and thriving in a country they helped build! ??BUT 2020 said no more. #Change your mentality, Change the world #staystrong #ANewAmerica #blm #revolution ✊?✊?✊?✊?✊?✊?✊?✊?✊?✊?."
Alongside a poignant black-and-white video explaining the importance of Juneteenth, the former first lady shared a lengthy caption about what the holiday means to her. "And what I love about #Juneteenth is that even in that extended wait, we still find something to celebrate," the mom of two wrote in part. "Even though the story has never been tidy, and Black folks have had to march and fight for every inch of our freedom, our story is nonetheless one of progress. I think of my own family’s journey. Both of my grandfathers were the grandchildren of enslaved people. They grew up in the Jim Crow South and migrated north in search of a better life. But even then, they were still shut out of jobs and schools and opportunities because of the color of their skin. But they pressed forward with dignity and with purpose, raising good kids, contributing to their communities, and voting in every election. And though they didn’t live to see it themselves, I can see the smiles on their faces knowing that their great-granddaughters ended up playing ball in the halls of the White House—a magnificent structure built by enslaved Americans."
The English actor-DJ rocked a very profound, meaningful 2HR SET T-shirt on Freedom Day. "Celebrate Juneteenth ?❤️. Never say Die," he captioned his selfie.
J.Lo asked her fans to take action. "There is a link in my bio to sign a petition created by Opal Lee, a 93 year old woman from Texas, to make Juneteenth a national holiday," she wrote on Instagram. "If the petition reaches its goal of 500K signatures, they will work to have legislation update US code 36, which is the list of official US observances, to add Juneteenth."
Danielle Moné Truitt
"'I’m black ya’ll. And I’m black ya’ll. And I’m blacker than black and I’m black ya’ll. I’m Blickity Black blacker than black black I’m blacker than black! YO! Because I’m black and I’m BACK!'” ✊???❤️ . . . " the Deputy actress wrote on Instagram. "HAPPY JUNETEENTH to all my BLACKER than BLACK, BEAUTIFUL, BOMB PEOPLE!!! We are resilient! Our lives are sacred!! We are our ancestors WILDEST DREAMS. I LOVE US!!!!"
The "Rare" singer wrote a lengthy Instagram caption, which she posted alongside a collage of Black men and women who she's been inspired by as they "took the time to speak to us directly" via her Instagram takeovers. "I am blown away with your knowledge, eagerness to teach and commitment to ensuring Black voices are not silenced," she wrote in part. "Educating ourselves is the first step if we hope to make any progress in bringing an end to systemic racism. As much as one might want to believe things have gotten better we cannot deny any longer that they have not. We need to acknowledge that social, political and economic discrimination against Black communities continues to exist. There is a deep pain that needs to be healed. Unless this is recognized history will continue to repeat itself over and over."
The "Rain on Me" singer reposted an infographic from Eiselle Ty to her Instagram story, the center of which stated, "June 19th = nobody is free until everybody is free."
Tracee Ellis Ross
The actress shared an incredibly moving song, "We Built This," from a 2017 episode of Black-ish, one of the most visible celebrations and explanations of Juneteenth in recent pop culture.
The World of Dance judge posted an image of a raised fist created in the shape of Africa alongside the caption, "#HappyJuneteenth ✊?✊?✊?."
"This is why we speak up. And despite being exhausted by the mechanisms that have made it so hard for us to excel these past 400 years, we continue to fight standing on the shoulders of those who have endured the unspeakable for generations," the Station 19 star captioned a photo of his family. "We honor our ancestors who were shackled, thrown in dungeons, loaded on ships, sold into slavery, forces to work cotton fields, discriminated against to this day, by teaching our children to stand tall and march for equality, freedom and justice. ❤️??✊??? #WeAreDescendantsOfKingsAndQueens #WeAreDescendantsOfSurvivors."
The singer-actress shared an illustration by Jeanetta Gonzales and an explanation of what Juneteenth from the June 19th issue of the New York Times. "In the midst of this collective moment of reflection and accountability, it’s imperative to keep learning because Black History is American History," Moore captioned her Instagram post.
The young Black-ish actress shared that filming the 2017 episode of her ABC show that focused on Juneteenth helped her learn more about the holiday. "This day represents freedom, independence and the start of my ancestors’s journey to equality. I wish more people knew that it took over TWO YEARS for the word to spread about the end of slavery, which means that thousands of enslaved African Americans were in bondage longer than they should have been. Imagine anyone that died thinking they were a slave, when they were actually free," she wrote. "For so long, so much of the history that has been taught was only from one perspective, and what was shared about Black people was slavery, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver and Martin Luther King Jr. We are so much more than just those stories."
The Disclosure executive producer opened up to ET about what the holiday means to her. “Juneteenth is about freedom. It is about emancipation. And I think that for a long time, for black people in this country, that was symbolic," she explained. "Yes, we were freed, but then Jim Crow happened, and then mass incarceration happened. It has been a fraught battle, so it is always a tempered kind of celebration for me when I think about that. But when I think about the overwhelming support for Black Lives Matter that we did not have six years ago when Black Lives Matter began, I'm heartened and I am hopeful that we can turn the tide. But it has to translate into policies and practices that value black lives, that re-prioritize budget so that we are making sure that the most marginalized people in this country -- poor and working people, poor and working black folks, trans folks -- have their material conditions changed. That is what it is about. It is about the material conditions that people who are most marginalized changing. That must be the goal, must be.” Cox also shared a poignant video to Instagram on June 19.
The "Lover" singer celebrated Juneteenth by sharing a video from The Root's Danielle Young on the significance of June 19 and why it should become a federal holiday. Swift also revealed that she gave all her employees the day off "in honor of Freedom Day from now on, and to continue to educate myself on the history that brought us to this present moment." The pop star added that recent events have also helped her reevaluate her standing on social issues, writing, "For my family, everything that has transpired recently gives us an opportunity to reflect, listen, and reprogram any part of our lives that hasn’t been loudly and ferociously anti-racist, and to never let privilege lie dormant when it could be used to stand up for what’s right."
The Us star posted about Opal Lee, the woman behind the movement to make Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, a national holiday. "At 93, Mrs. Lee keeps banging the drum for the recognition of this day. Public holidays signal the moments in history that are important to a nation's identity and the values they hold dear," Nyong'o explained, adding that she has a link to Lee's petition in her Instagram bio. "Recognizing Juneteenth nationally would be one more way of acknowledging the intrinsic value of Black people and their history to the wealth and prosperity of the USA. We are aware that oversight of these historical events blinds and misleads both our present and our future generations. It encourages willful ignorance and the touting of revisionist history."
The Quarantine Queen singer and Texas native mused on the importance of Juneteenth to ET, explaining that to him it means "freedom in the legitimate sense." "Before, when I used to celebrate Juneteenth and we would go to Black Park -- that’s what we called it in Plainview, Texas, where I was from -- and hang out all day. To me, it just meant a time of celebrating your heritage with people who looked like you, and celebrating where we came from and where we are going," Hall said. But now, because Pride is such a big part of my life, I feel even more free during the month of June because I feel -- finally as an adult who started out not feeling free as a black man and not feeling free as a gay man -- now I am legitimately feeling more and more and more and more free every year. So many people are out there fighting for the rights of my brothers and sisters, whether that be part of the LGBTQ+ community or the African American community."
"Celebrating Juneteenth by celebrating my melanin," the dapperly dressed actor-comedian captioned a video of himself rapping in the car.
The rapper and Fast and the Furious star shared a hopeful message to Instagram. "Juneteenth is a reminder to African Americans that our ancestors never gave up the hope of freedom. It reminds us that we can create and build our communities even when we seem to have nothing," he wrote. "Because when the slaves were sent free, their houses were burned down, their farm animals were killed and their wells of water were depleted. And yet we still rose up to build flourishing communities and infrastructure. Juneteenth is a reminder that we can make something out of nothing and that despair can give birth to a history of GREATNESS. WE WILL CONTINUE TO RISE STRONGER OVER AND OVER AGAIN ✊? @52thoughts."
The comedian used just a "??" emoji to caption an image of fists raised in honor of Freedom Day.
"BLACK LIVES WILL ALWAYS MATTER ✊?✊?✊?#Juneteenth #blacklivesmatter," the Games People Play actor captioned a trio of Instagram images.
The Oscar winner shared an image that read, "Juneteenth. When America became a more perfect Union. '...That all men are created equal...'" He captioned the quote, "A Day to celebrate. Nationally. Working towards Liberty and Justice. For All. Hanx."
The actress -- whose HBO show, Watchmen, helped bring the Tulsa Massacres to a larger audience who hadn't learned about the horrible events in school -- proudly shared a still from her upcoming film, One Night in Miami. "Black history IS American history! I am so excited that today, on Juneteenth, we get to share this first image from our film #OneNightinMiami. Can't wait for you all to see the brilliance these brothers bring to their portrayals of Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, Cassius Clay and Jim Brown," she wrote.
“You know, it' the day the slaves were freed and it's a wonderful day in my book," the Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist actress told ET. "The day is quite literally about freedom and being free and opportunity and hope and optimism and celebration is the baseline of it all. And it's a time for us to come together and be proud of where we are. It's kind of like what I said with Pride, to be proud of where you are and the accomplishments that you've had -- and celebrating just being black, unabashedly black.”
The pregnant model posted facts about Juneteenth to her Instagram Story.
The "COFFEE" singer shared a few memes to her Instagram Story, including one that read, "I'm black every day but on Juneteenth I'm gonna be blackity black black."
"Juneteenth. 1865. A day for all of us to learn and remember. ?," the pregnant reality star wrote on Instagram. "Swipe left if you are unsure what today means. And know it’s ok, better to know now then never know at all. Thank you @naohms for the informative slides of Juneteenth and it’s importance. ? #blm #juneteenth #freedom."
The New Kid on the Block member shared a lengthy video to Instagram in which he discusses the importance of Juneteenth, his love for the African American community and the love he's received back. "The joy of living and learning and sharing -- I've been surrounded by teachers of color my whole life, and I am a better, bigger, fuller person because of it," he said in the clip.
"For the love of my people #juneteenth," the San Franciso 49ers defensive tackle captioned an animated graphic of three Black fists held high in the air.
In honor of Juneteenth, the Tony winner gave a shout out to two of the most important women in her life. "Two women who stood on the sidelines watching my every move, making sure that I shone, and looked beautiful shining. Women who don’t readily get the opening credit, but women our entire acting team couldn’t work without," she wrote on Instagram. "Women who made sure gravity didn’t succeed under my eyes in the morning when my baby kept me up all night. Who made sure hair was laid and coiffed, and submitted to capable hands. Women who prayed with me. Laughed with me. Sang with me. Had my back, face, and hair. My hair and makeup team for @sweetmagnoliasnetflix. @denisetunnell and @traceymosshair. Thanks Ladies."
The "Yummy" singer shared an illustration with his fans from the Instagram account No White Saviors that read "Happy Juneteenth. May our commitment to justice & liberation be greater than our fear of the risk of fighting for it."
Candace Cameron Bure
"Juneteenth. Listening and learning and celebrating," the Fuller House star captioned a re-posted video about the holiday. "Many look at today as #IndependenceDay. Here’s why! Cited from @_thistlethings & PBS. ?: 'Oh My Lord' by @mandisaofficial."
Bridget Everett, Jenny Slate and Kris Jenner
The actresses both shared the same infographic from Shawn Theodore that defined Juneteenth, as did Jenner, who also wrote alongside the image, "Today we commemorate Juneteenth, a day to celebrate freedom and to acknowledge that there is still a long way to go in the fight for justice and equality. I hope that the attention we can all help bring to a day that has been celebrated for so many years in the black community, and one that is so important in our country’s history, will help us move forward in the direction of recognition and change."
"Juneteenth should be a paid national holiday. Raise your hand if you agree, and pass it along," the Star Trek actor wrote alongside a video that helped people learn more about June 19.
"Happy #Juneteenth ❤️," the stand-up comedian captioned a selfie of himself rocking a blue hat that read "Make Racists Catch the Fade Again." "A LONG OVERDUE National Holiday, that without it, i may be without the most beautiful, wonderful people that i call my family, and hold closest to my heart. No ? ........ but also yes this ????✊?❤️."