Juneteenth: A Colorful Holiday To Celebrate

Juneteenth: A Colorful Holiday To Celebrate

When it comes to Juneteenth, what colors should we rock?


Certain holidays are often celebrated by donning signature colors: red at Valentine’s, orange and black for Halloween, and red, white, and blue for those celebrating the fourth of July.

So, when it comes to Juneteenth, what colors should we rock?

Laquan Austion, founder and CEO of The National Juneteenth Foundation

The history and significance of Juneteenth’s colors includes dual perspectives that coincide with two different Juneteenth flags, says Laquan Austion, founder and CEO of The Juneteenth Foundation.

“There are two flags which most folks know: red, white and blue, designed to take after the traditional American flag,” Austion told BLACK ENTERPRISE, and “the traditional Pan-African flag, which is red, black, and green. The community wanted to make sure we were tapping into our African ancestral roots and the importance of red, representing blood; black, representing soil; and green, representing prosperity of our native roots in Africa.”

Red, White, and Blue To Honor American Tradition

The National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF), which includes hundreds of local organizations, was instrumental in the passage of Juneteenth Independence Day legislation. Observed annually on June 19, Juneteenth recognizes the emancipation of America’s enslaved community. It became a federal holiday in 2021.

NJOF shared with BLACK ENTERPRISE a 2020 CNN article that describes the original Juneteenth flag as a “banner with a bursting star in the middle,” which is “a symbolic representation of the end of slavery in the United States.” The flag was conceptualized in the late 1990s by activist Ben Haith, with the help of collaborators, and Boston-based illustrator Lisa Jeanne Graf, who brought their vision to life.

In the article, Haith said the red, white, and blue colors represent the American flag: “a reminder that slaves and their descendants were and are Americans.” Yet, as African Americans daily continue the fight for justice and equality, Haith added, “those colors symbolize the continuous commitment of people in the United States to do better — and to live up to the American ideal of liberty and justice for all.”

Additionally, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article reports that “the blue is above the red” on the original Juneteenth flag “because the red represents the ground soaked with blood from all those who came before us and fought for freedom.”

Red, Black and Green To Honor African Roots

Austion said he tips his hat to NJOF leaders, who have been in the fight for Juneteenth “before it was relevant and before it was popular in the nation,” as they’ve focused on the policy aspect of making Juneteenth the nation’s most recent federally-legislated holiday. “A very special shoutout to Ms. Opal Lee, the grandmother of Juneteenth.”

Simultaneously, his organization, The National Juneteenth Foundation, is focused on the future of Juneteenth and how folks and communities can engage now. The organization does this in three ways: focusing on the need for diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, including an annual hybrid career fair; supporting HBCU students through scholarships; and lastly, ensuring Black Americans celebrate Juneteenth in our own ways, including the Foundation’s 3rd Annual Freedom Festival on June 14 in Washington, D.C.

“On St. Patty’s, the community is out wearing traditional Irish colors: green and white. We should represent our community the same way on Juneteenth – wear that black, red, and green,” Austion said. “Paint those nails, do that hair. I’m gonna have on a fresh shirt and fly shoes. Make sure that we represent our colors to remind the community when you’re out and about, that today is Juneteenth and it’s a representation of our community and our special day.”

Juneteenth: A Colorful History To Be Celebrated

No matter which colors you rock or which flags you fly, Austion encourages all to do it with style and with pride.

“I encourage folks to use both flags. They both have significant prominence in communities,” he said. “The Pan-African flag obviously has a lot of historical roots to Africa, and the red, white, and blue flag that takes after the American flag is also really significant as well, because folks were brought here and freed here in our nation to purse their American dream.”

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