Happy Juneteenth: Celebrate Black Freedom

by: Farrah Daniel, Better Bike Share Partnership Writer

A man holds up a Black Lives Matter flag in Charlotte, NC. Photo by Clay Banks.

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. This holiday commemorates the day federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to ensure all enslaved people were freed. In reality, this didn’t instantly free all slaves — this emancipation only applied to places under Confederate control. Part of the significance of this holiday is how it represents in many ways how freedom for Black people has always been delayed. This day serves as a reminder that nobody is free until we all are. For a more thorough history, take this time to read through Juneteenth.com.

Today, Juneteenth commemorates Black freedom and emphasizes education and achievement

It’s a day or week (or a month in some areas a month) filled reflection and rejoicing as well as celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings. And “its growing popularity signifies a level of maturity and dignity in America long overdue,” reads Juneteenth’s site. “In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today.” Being sensitized to the conditions and experiences of others is the only way we can make significant and lasting improvements in our society. 

Want to participate? Here are some ways to reflect on and celebrate this day:

  • Order food from a Black-owned restaurant: Support Black restaurant owners in your community by ordering food on Juneteenth and beyond
  • Black lives matter. Support the cause these eight ways: From making donations to getting more involved in your local community, here are real ideas you can participate in to support the Black Lives Matter movement and antiracism, even from your living room.
  • Educate yourself and reflect: Engage with movies, shows, books and podcasts that can help reveal real-world issues. (Recommendation: Ava DuVernay’s documentary on Netflix, 13th)
  • Watch online Juneteenth events: Tune in to the virtual Juneteenth music festival or online gala. You can also find a listing of local events where you live!
  • Place a sign in your front yard: Raise awareness and show your support for Juneteenth by decorating a sign for your front yard or door. This is a great way to help educate your neighbors, the youth or any passersby who may not know about the holiday.
  • You’ve been on Zoom all week for work, so use it for something fun today — celebrate with a virtual barbecue or family meal. 

As Juneteenth gains popularity and widespread recognition, we’re excited to see a growing list of transportation and shared micromobility companies and nonprofits recognizing and celebrating Juneteenth this year! Some include:

  • Bicycle Transit Systems
  • City of Philadelphia 
  • National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)
  • People for Bikes

Check out the rest below, including how you can ride through your celebration with bike share!

Juneteenth in the Bike Share Community

 Austin BCycle 

On its Twitter account, Austin BCycle confirmed that it will be offering free rides all Juneteenth weekend!

Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia 

“Our team is dedicated to anti-racism within our programming, staff, and membership as we aim to better grow and serve our Black community,” read the BCGP statement on Instagram. “Please read our open letter statement and outlined action-based commitments to advance anti-racist and equity initiatives from Executive Director Sarah Stuart and Board of Directors Chair Ed Chang. 

City of Portland

Earlier this week, Portland’s mayor announced the city will formally recognize June 19, or Juneteenth, as a paid holiday. The Portland City Council plans to adopt an ordinance Wednesday to establish June 19 as a day of recognition of black American history and give employees a paid day off to engage in remembrance and action, Wheeler said in a statement.

“We are suggesting that City of Portland employees spend the holiday getting educated on the white supremacy that was foundational to American culture,” the statement said. “The objectives of the day are to grieve, listen, learn, engage and heal.”

Community Cycling Center 

In honor of Juneteenth, the Community Cycling Center closed today. Their Instagram message read:

We support the movement to make Juneteenth a national holiday and hope to see it become a day of learning and celebration of Black lives in our community. June 19, 1865 was not the end of slavery, but rather the beginning of the gradual process of emancipation that we are still living through today. We appreciate your support and you have ours.”

People For Mobility Justice & Date With the Night

Date with the Night bike collective and friends are very excited that Juneteenth is landing on a Friday! This ride will be lead by Womxn of Color for People of Color. More than ever, because “we desperately need a safe space to process among each other,” the announcement read. The group respectfully thanks everyone for honoring their wishes at the moment — they look forward to future open bike rides. Check out the Facebook event page for more details about meet-up locations and what to bring!

Time: 5:30 pm

Some of what to bring:

  • Mask
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Reflective clothes
  • Water
  • Cash (for a group dinner at a Jamaican restaurant)

West Town Bikes

West Town Bikes is hosting a ride today, Juneteenth, and another next Sunday. Their message on Instagram read:

Spreading love, peace, and understanding. Let’s support each other during this transitional phase of a most just and equal world ❤️.”

What are some celebrations going on in your city? If you’d rather be more reflective today, challenge yourself to learn something new!

The Better Bike Share Partnership is a JPB Foundation-funded collaboration between the City of Philadelphia, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and the PeopleForBikes Foundation to build equitable and replicable bike share systems. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or sign up for our weekly newsletter. Story tip? Write farrah@peopleforbikes.org.