The nation’s longest running Black holiday was born in the South.
It’s been 156 years, since freedmen, women and children celebrated the first Juneteenth. The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned of their freedom from a Union general two and half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. A year after receiving the news, Black people gathered to honor their liberation through food, parades, singing and other examples of pure Black joy.
Starr Dunigan, Reckon reporter and “Black Joy” newsletter curator, and three Black creators and healers will bring that celebration to Instagram Live through a three-day series called “Juneteenth: Joy is Liberation.”
Starting Monday, June 14, the following guests will chat with us about how they empower their communities so that they can claim their happiness, peace and success.
Theo Edwards-Butler, creator of “The Modern Green Book”
When Black businesses thrive, so do Black communities. While studying theatre and galvanizing Black activism at Samford University in Alabama, Louisville, Ky., native Edwards-Butler daydreamed about performing in theatres across the country – and spending her coins with Black entrepreneurs during her travels. After noticing how Black businesses were struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, she created “The Modern Green Book” as a guide to help people find and support Black businesses in their area. The project is named for “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” which detailed where African Americans could safely find rest and relaxation while navigating a segregated nation.
On Monday at 12:30 p.m., Edwards-Butler will talk about her project, which has blossomed into more than just a database within a year’s time. The Modern Green Book brand also shares the stories behind the business owners in its quarterly magazine, provides a full marketing agency to help businesses navigate the digital world, and is hosting its first Juneteenth celebration next weekend. In the future, Edwards-Butler hopes to start a foundation to provide grants for minority owned businesses that are struggling to find startup capital.
LeNaya Smith Crawford, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Known as the “Holistic MFT,” LeNaya Smith Crawford is dedicated to healing her community on multiple levels. She works with the mind as the clinical director of Kaleidoscope Family Therapy in Atlanta, where she focuses on trauma, child and adolescent therapy. At Seviin Yoga, a yoga studio she opened along with her husband in January 2018, she helps yogis of color release the stress while practicing poses together in a colorful, LED-lit, heated room. Her sound baths and affirmation card decks will soothe your soul.
On June 16 at 12:30 p.m., Crawford will chat about her new affirmation card and the different ways you can cultivate happiness and energy in your life no matter what mental shape you are in. Catch our interview to get a special deal on Crawford’s four-week, self-paced course called “I AM JOY.”
Ashley Jones, Award-winning author and teacher
Ashley Jones is a Birmingham, Ala.-based wordsmith who has won multiple awards for her writing. Her essays and poetry have been featured in journals, anthologies and by publications and media outlets such as CNN, POETRY and The Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy. Jones also teaches creative writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, Ala. and is the founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival. Jones will talk to Reckon about her third poetry collection “Reparations Now!” and how she imagines reparations on June 18 at noon.