Uplifting Black heritage, traditions, and history on Juneteenth

From an early age, we teach children to express their feelings, to be themselves, and to honor their personal experience and culture. There is a power and pride in knowing our stories, and in having the story of our ancestors recognized, too. That’s one reason First 5 is excited to observe Juneteenth tomorrow with California’s Black families—to uplift heritage, traditions, and history with our little ones. 

As University of Pittsburgh child development scholar Dr. Aisha White writes, sharing about Juneteenth with children “offers an opportunity for kids to know how important it was for people who had been treated so badly for so long to begin to experience a whole new way of life, to be truly free, and that’s always something to celebrate.” Here are some great books to teach young children about Juneteenth, and ideas for celebration activities at home. 

At First 5, we have been taking a hard look at our own history and story, too. We know we have a lot of work to do to be a network that authentically and effectively represents California’s children and families, especially those who face the most systemic barriers to opportunity. To this end, we embarked in 2020 on a learning and action journey to more directly center race, equity, diversity and inclusion in ourselves, our organizations, and our external policy and systems work.  

Working in partnership with experienced consultants, First 5 is creating a framework to better address inequities that affect young children, families and communities at the policy, systems and structural level. Though we are only at the beginning of our journey, we are humbled by the process and invigorated by the possibilities of reimagining our work so we can truly ensure every young child and family in California thrives. 

Thanks for reading, and Happy Juneteenth, 

Signature of Melissa Stafford Jones
Melissa Stafford Jones
Executive Director, First 5 Association of California
Signature of Camille Maben
Camille Maben
Executive Director, First 5 California