Celebrating Juneteenth

June 16, 2023

Jadakiss plays a free show during Five Points’ annual Juneteenth celebration, June 16, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Happy (almost) Juneteenth! To all descendants of enslaved Africans & African Americans, we hope you can celebrate the freedom, joy, and resilience of this special day, and can enjoy celebrations this weekend. Juneteenth is an important day in America’s history, as well as a meaningful celebration each year. We want to take a moment to honor the memory of the many people who fought endlessly for the sake of liberation. 

Juneteenth (June 19th) is the anniversary of the day the last state ended slavery, making it an incredibly important moment for the history of this country. This day also marks the snowball of changing perspectives and building momentum behind equality.  In 1865 in Galveston, Black Texans were finally made aware, two and a half years after Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation, that slavery had been made illegal throughout the country. States in the South (those emancipated last) then began a tradition of feasts and parades to honor and celebrate this day. As people migrated throughout the country, they brought these traditions with them, thus spreading Juneteenth celebrations across the nation.

Now you may be wondering what the link is between We Don’t Waste and Juneteenth. Beyond the top priority of acknowledging and bringing focus to the holiday, the connection is food. Funny how food is somehow always connected, isn’t it?

Over the years, there has been a tradition on Juneteenth of eating and drinking things that are red. There are a few interesting theories as to why that started. There are many scholars who believe that this tradition is rooted in the ancestry of people in the area going back to Yoruba and Kongo cultures. For many West African communities, the color red is symbolic of power, strength, spirituality, life and death. Others have made the link to the narratives told by ancestors of enslavement starting with red flannel cloth or red bandanas being used as lures, so using red foods and drinks served as a reclamation of this color. Over the years, there have been some foods that have lasted the test of time, most notably: barbecue, red velvet cake, and strawberry soda or punch. 

Time to get out the BBQ sauce!

We Don’t Waste’s resident barbecue expert, Brandon, recommends the 3-2-1 rule for your pork-rib barbeque to kick off your Juneteenth celebrations. 

Here at We Don’t Waste, we’re aware that food insecurity is in fact an issue of racial equity. Nearly 20% of Black Americans are living in households experiencing food insecurity, with 3x a higher likelihood than white Americans to experience hunger. Our contribution to combating this injustice is to bring Mobile Food Markets directly to the communities most impacted. We seek out relationships within food deserts so that our food distribution can directly counteract the long-established disconnect to fresh foods. 

You can help us fight food insecurity by getting involved! Through volunteering or making a donation, you can help change the narrative around food access. Check out our volunteer opportunities here, or support We Don’t Waste by making a donation today. Every dollar is four meal’s worth of fresh, healthy foods that we can serve to our community. Join us today in providing free, nutritious food to our neighbors.