Tracee Ellis Ross, Lizzo, Lupita Nyong’o And More Celebs Commemorate 'Juneteenth'

Katie O'Malley
Photo credit: Getty Images

From ELLE

In the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s deaths and the continuation of Black Lives Matter-focussed protests, Juneteenth couldn’t be a more pertinent day in the calendar this year.

The holiday, which takes place on Friday June 19, marks the end of slavery in the US and individuals have long called for it to be celebrated as a federal holiday (47 states currently acknowledge Juneteenth as a state holiday or observance).

The phrase ‘Juneteenth’ combines the word ‘June’ and ‘19th’ to commemorate the anniversary of the day in 1865 when general Gordon Granger read out President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation to enslaved African Americans on a plantation in Texas.

Slavery had actually been abolished in America two years prior, in 1863, but Texan slave owners kept the news of the Emancipation Proclamation from their slaves. So Juneteenth marks the occasion when the last state in the US finally moved to acknowledge it.

Over the years, the holiday has been celebrated in various ways to mark the importance of Black liberation, from dancing and singing to readings of the Proclamation.

This year, many celebrities including Lupita Nyong’o, Bernie Sanders, Tracee Ellis Ross and Taylor Swift have revealed how they plan to celebrate the important occasion.

Here is a list of how A-listers are marking Juneteenth:

Taylor Swift




The singer called for Juneteenth to be made a national holiday, expressing her opinion on Instagram and Twitter.

Sharing a video about the significance of June 19 in the history of the emancipation of slaves in the USA on Instagram, the 30-year-old wrote in the caption: ‘Personally, I’ve made the decision to give all of my employees June 19th off in honour of Freedom Day from now on, and to continue to educate myself on the history that brought us to this present moment.’

Lizzo

The singer celebrated the US holiday by announcing on Instagram that she was hosting a raffle and a silent auction to raise money for Black-owned organisations and businesses.

In the clip, in which she sits on a staircase seemingly naked save for her long hair covering the majority of her body, she directed her fans to her website LizzoLovesYou.com to sign up to have an interactive experience with her.

‘Celebrate Juneteenth by giving back to Black,’ she concluded her video.

Tom Hanks

The typography fan shared a picture of a type written statement on his Instagram account on Friday.

‘Juneteenth. When America became a more perfect Union. “…That all men are created equal…” the text reads.

‘A Day to celebrate. Nationally. Working towards Liberty and Justice. For All. Hanx,’ he signed off his post.

Teyana Taylor

The singer released her fourth album, The Album, on Juneteenth and opened up about its release date in an interview with Billboard.

‘I've always been about us being celebrated and celebrating my culture and my people,’ she told the publication. ‘For everything to happen, from my album getting delayed and it falls perfectly on Juneteenth, yes, it's a celebration.’

Tracee Ellis Ross




The writer and Pattern Beauty Curl Care creator announced on her Instagram and Twitter accounts that her company would release phase two of the company’s product and tool line on the historic date.

‘I’m reminded of the importance of being a Black-owned business, and why Pattern has been centred around the beauty of blackness from the start,’ she said in the clip.

‘I’m reminded of the importance of being an active space, where we can see ourselves in our humanity in our joy, in our glory, in our softness and our strength.’

The actress also joined her Black-ish castmates including Laurence Fishburn and Yara Shahidi on Friday for a video conference call to discuss the show's season four episode 'Juneteenth' from 2017.

Gigi Hadid

Photo credit: Gigi Hadid - Instagram

The pregnant model shared important information about Juneteenth on her Instagram Story on Friday.

Lupita Nyong’o

On Friday, the Oscar winner took to Twitter to inform her 1.7m followers of the importance of Juneteenth becoming a national holiday.

Sharing a photograph of Opal Lee, 93, who has long fought for the day to be recognised as a federal holiday, the actress added: ‘We are aware that oversight of these historical events blinds and misleads both our present and our future generations. It encourages willful ignorance and the touting of revisionist history.’

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez

The Congresswoman asked her followers how they were marking the occasion and encouraged lawmakers to make Juneteenth a national holiday.

Ben and Jerry's

This ice cream company is fast becoming one of our favourite international businesses, given their advocacy for racial justice and equality.

On Friday, the Ben and Jerry's Instagram account shared a graphic of bowls of ice cream with phrases such as ‘affordable housing’ and ‘defund the police’.

Its caption reads: ‘Defund the police, defend Black communities! This #Juneteenth, it's more important than ever that we dismantle the racist and ineffective model of American policing. Learn more about how defunding the police works and why we so desperately need it.’

Bernie Sanders

The politician shared a video of himself and actor Danny Glover discussing Juneteeth on his Twitter account and the importance of federal recognition.

‘It is time that we, as a nation, come to terms with slavery's horrors and how they affect every aspect of our lives today,’ Sanders captioned the clip.

Regina King

The Oscar Winner shared a photograph from her film One Night In Miami on Juneteeth. The film explores the lives of Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, Cassius Clay and Jim Brown.

‘Black history IS American history! [sic],’ an excerpt of the post’s caption reads.

Sesame Street

The famous children’s TV show announced on Instagram on Friday that it is ‘proud to celebrate #Juneteenth with our Black and African American families, friends, and community’.

It described the occasion as ‘a day of celebration, learning and sharing traditions and history’.

Jada Pinkett Smith

Ahead of Juneteenth, the Matrix star revealed on Instagram that she would be releasing a Red Table interview with activist Dr. Angela Davis and Tamika D. Mallory to discuss the ‘racial crisis’ in the US.

‘It’s an important episode I don’t think you will want to miss,’ she added in the post’s caption with a teaser from the interview.

Pharrell Williams

Deadline reports that the ‘Happy’ singer is in talks with Netflix develop a musical about Juneteenth after he recently called for the commemoration of the end of slavery in the US and for June 19 to become a national holiday.

Earlier this week, the singer shared a video of himself on Instagram with Virginia’s Governor Ralph Shearer Northam to announced June 19 as a state holiday.

‘A paid holiday is just the start—to stand in solidarity with Black employees and with all Black people,’ he added in the post’s caption.

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