Freedom Day: 5 Juneteenth Songs That Celebrate Liberation
On June 19th, every year, we celebrate the end of slavery in the United States with Juneteenth. Also known as Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day, two-and-a-half-years after President Abraham Lincoln‘s Emancipation Proclamation (Jan. 1, 1863) — black people were declared free from oppression in Galveston, Texas and throughout the Confederate South. Now, we know how the rest of the story has gone thus far, but the holiday itself is primarily observed in local celebrations.
Growing up, some people would have a parade where traditional songs such as “Lift Every Voice and Sing” would kick the event off. Or readings by noted legendary scribes such as Maya Angelou and Ralph Ellison. Either way, whether you’re jamming out at the park or enjoying a cookout with family, today marked a moment in history where the people whose skin is darker than blue managed to take steps in controlling their own destination + future. With that said, we here at Okayplayer are joining you in celebrating one of America’s oldest known holidays by sharing with you this small #FreedomDay playlist.
Listen to these songs, play it loud and embrace your black pride by drowning out those General Lee’s (see: Donald Trump) who wish to enforce that old executive order.
Nina Simone — “To Be Young, Gifted and Black”
An anthem that still resonates till this day, Nina Simone‘s song was inspired by Lorraine Hansberry and serves as a constant reminder that black people are entitled to the rights afforded by all mankind and deserve to go after their dreams + successes like the rest of the world.
Beyoncé ft. Kendrick Lamar — “Freedom”
A recent addition to the list of songs that questions police brutality in America, the Beyhive’s general practitioner, Beyoncé linked up with Compton’s own, Kendrick Lamar to serve notice to anyone wishing for those “good ole’ days” with the Lemonade standout, “Freedom”. It’s what we want and what the world needs!
Curtis Mayfield + The Impressions — “People Get Ready”
Rooted in the thick of the Civil Rights Movement, Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions encouraged the black masses to swell up with pride, celebrate the rise of a King (MLK) and get ready for another new beginning.
Kendrick Lamar — “Alright”
A millennial with an agenda for ending the injustices handed to multiple generations of black people, Kendrick Lamar‘s prideful anthem embolden a new crop of black-and-brown people to rise up with positivity as their shield and make a way that would show all those against us that we’ll be alright.
Pharrell Williams — “Freedom”
Virginia’s own, Pharrell Williams, might’ve made the world happy, but his true goal was to ensure freedom for those oppressed and held underneath the tyranny of hate + negativity. This song encourages a strong look at the injustices that still go on in and around America.