Food for Our Minds and Spirits: The Visuals of Juneteenth

I love the photo history of America from around the Civil War. For a monumental shift in a nation’s social makeup, the pulling down of a centuries-long enslavement of a whole people, a military conflict on an enormous scale and the advent of technologies, including the camera, to all arrive at the same general time in history is a confluence that really blows me away. 

Of course, our awareness of these times and the understanding of how they shaped the world that was being built is completely askew. And this week is a good example. Juneteenth is a “new” holiday in that it was established as a national holiday only last year. But it is absolutely not new in any other sense –– it is an established, historical and enduring holiday, originating in the black community in America and for most of our lifetimes it has not been a part of wider conversation.

I’m excited and nervous and so intrigued to celebrate a holiday that doesn’t come from the majority culture. I’m also all of those things about finding a way to celebrate America apart from the one-dimensional, patriotic version that is on view so often during the Summer. But I would argue that anyone who is not a person of color from America has to approach this holiday through the lens of learning, and this is where photographs can help. Indeed there is a trove of photographic history to help us understand why this holiday is so important. (You can see SOME photos––by no means all––here and here and here!)

The history behind Juneteenth is worthy to know, but the history of CELEBRATING Juneteenth is just as important a part of the holiday. It’s the part that can tell us why it is so meaningful to those who created this celebration. The most we can learn as a community and as a society comes from this history, and participating in the celebration is how to do it.

Allan T. Georgia, M.Div., M.T.S., PhD

Sometimes it is hard to tap into our spiritual selves or find time to nurture our intellectual curiosity. Here is a section that reflects on some nourishing materials from around the web and related media channels in order to get us thinking, get us feeling, and get us reflecting on the lives we are living in this big, beautiful world. **Some Adult/Mature Themes May Appear in Links and Other Attached Material**