Juneteenth and the Endurance of Black Joy

June 19, 2023
Hands reaching up in celebration around words that read "Juneteenth and the Endurance of Black Joy"

For the third time ever on Monday, we will celebrate Juneteenth or Emancipation Day as a national holiday. It has been celebrated among Black communities for more than a century. It’s both a solemn remembrance and an expression of Black joy. The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas learned of their freedom, more than two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed.

On this day, we recognize the strength and resilience of Black communities and acknowledge the continued struggle for liberation. Sa’uda Dunlap writes “finding and sustaining happiness during times of profound pain is a revolutionary act. Joy is powerful! It lifts our spirits, energizes us, and enhances our sense of meaning and purpose.  Deciding to center joy, particularly Black joy, is centering Black humanity.” In Austin, the joy and accomplishments of the Black community will be celebrated and uplifted with a parade, community Freedom Festival, BBQ cookout, live music, and games for the entire family. This community celebration is “deeply rooted in collective support and involve(s) creating safe spaces where people can share their experiences and engage in collective healing practices.” To read more of Dunlap’s writing on Juneteenth and black joy, you can read her full article here:https://www.caribbeanlife.com/juneteenth-and-the-endurance-of-black-joy/

To participate in the celebration of Juneteenth, a list of local and statewide events is: https://diversity.utexas.edu/2023/05/30/2023-juneteenth-celebrations/

Finally, in addition to the power of communal care and joyful celebration in supporting mental health around Juneteenth, we also wanted to highlight the work of Jacquelyn Ogorchukwu who shares the additional domains of caring for our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual bodies. Ogorchukwu offers a wholistic framework for supporting ourselves in the face of historic and current stress.


If you would like to connect with a licensed counselor about community care, Black joy, or wholistic mental health, you can contact the EAP at UT Austin. You can schedule a free, confidential appointment with a licensed counselor by emailing eap@austin.utexas.edu or calling 512-471-3366.