Eat and Drink Red on Juneteenth

June 19th is Juneteenth. Widely seen as a regional holiday that people in Texas and some other southern states recognized, Juneteenth has come to the forefront nationally in recent years, partially due to the growing desire of others to learn more about Black culture and reckon with the Unites States’ racist systems and backbone of slavery.

June 19, 1865 – over two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and two months after Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House – is the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. The date is why most historians mark 1865 as the “end of slavery.” Texas made the holiday an official state holiday in 1979.

Juneteenth/Jubilee Day/Freedom Day celebrations often include music, prayer services, historical programs and recognition and of course food. So what food might a Juneteenth celebration include? Red food and drink are staples of Juneteenth celebrations, but why?

The color red symbolizes the blood and resilience of enslaved Black people, but also represents the hue of some of the foods brought from Africa. Red food and drink choices may include:

  • Watermelon
  • Hibiscus tea
  • Strawberry soda
  • Red velvet cake
  • Strawberry lemonade
  • Hot links
  • Strawberry pie and cake

Other norms of Juneteenth menus are BBQ, fried chicken, tea cakes, greens and other soul food dishes. If you are looking for a why to introduce your family and friends to celebrating Juneteenth, having a special meal and discussing the meaning of it is a great way to start. And who’s to say wine can’t be included, grab your favorite red and toast to Juneteenth and the enslaved Black people who built this country and continue to be left out of spaces and conversations about land use and more.

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