Honoring Juneteenth with a Historic (and Delicious) Cookie | Local Initiatives Support Corporation (2024)

LISC's work on behalfof the racial equity goals that Juneteenth stands for have taught us many things. Like howsupporting small, Black-owned businesses is a critical component of helping close racial wealth and opportunity gaps. And that celebrating African-cultural cultural inheritances,like the beloved Southern tea cake, is a beautiful way to mark this weekend's holiday and Black history and creativity.

6.15.2022 - LISC Stories

Juneteenth: it is the oldest national commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, the country’s longest-running Black holiday, and one of the most important anniversaries in America’s history. Also known as “Emancipation Day,” “Freedom Day,” and “Second Independence Day,” Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas learned that the Civil War was over and that they were free—nearly two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation. It celebrates freedom, yes, but also survival, resilience, empowerment, and hopefulness.

LISC is committed to upholding all that Juneteenth celebrates, and one way our 38 local offices and rural program do that is by connecting diverse communities with programs and resources that work to break down decades of accumulated disadvantage and nurture economic opportunity.

LISC LA, for example, supports “Main Street” mom and pop businesses, many of them Black-owned and –managed, through its Keep Our Shops on the Block initiative. As part of this work, LISC offers grant and technical assistance programs like the South LA Digital Literacy Mentorship Program, which provides BIPOC entrepreneurs in South LA with culturally appropriate and industry-specific one-on-one advising to help those businesses improve their digital and technological presence.

Lura's Kitchen is a multi-generational family baking company taking advantage of the mentorship program to bring its merchandising to the next level. Last fall, Lura’s also received a small business loan through the Los Angeles Kiva Hub, which LISC LA manages, and which helped fund the business’s first run of its gourmet cookie baking mixes and kick-start a new phase for the enterprise.

Honoring Juneteenth with a Historic (and Delicious) Cookie | Local Initiatives Support Corporation (1)
Lura Daniels-Ball, founder/owner of Lura's Kitchen

And that’s where another poignant link to Juneteenth comes in: of all Lura’s Kitchen’s cookie mixes, the most beloved and historically significant has to be Madear’s Old Fashion Teacakes. It’s a recipe named for owner Lura Daniels-Ball’s mother, Mary Lee Daniels, who was affectionately called “Madear” and was renowned among family and friends for her sublime version of this archetypal Southern cookie.

Steeped in African-American history and culture, teacakes in America date back more than 250 years. They were prepared by enslaved people in the southeastern United States, and although plantation cooks developed this soft, aromatic cookie as an accompaniment for tea, often served to the guests of slaveholders, it was not “slave food,” as slaves did not have access to white flour or sugar. In enslaved households, molasses and other ingredients took the place of sugar and white flour in teacakes, and each family developed its own closely guarded recipe.

Over time, teacakes become inextricably linked with Southern African American culture. There are poems, songs and countless stories celebrating the cookie. They are at the heart of one of the most important and liberatory passages in poet Maya Angelou’s autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: “When I was a lonely, scared and scarred eight year old, Mrs. Bertha Flowers, a lean, Black teacher invited me to her house and made tea cakes,” she wrote. “The aroma of the freshly baked cookies merged with the rich sound of her voice as she read to me.” For Angelou, teacakes became synonymous with the power of language, and a life-saving sense of self-worth and dignity.

During the Great Migration, Black people left the South, eager to leave the worst of their experiences behind and in search of opportunity. They carried the tradition of teacakes with them. Almost everyone with a Southern heritage had a family member that made the “best” teacakes. And so the tradition continued. But through the decades of moves and transitions, says Daniels-Ball, teacakes are in jeopardy of being forgotten. Which is one reason Lura’s Kitchen offers a teacake mix today.

This cookie, which became a treasured delicacy of the African American community, as Daniels-Ball puts it, is transformed into “a positive icon [that] survives the horrors of slavery, replacing some of the bad memories with love.”

Honoring Juneteenth with a Historic (and Delicious) Cookie | Local Initiatives Support Corporation (2024)


Does the historical legacy of Juneteenth shows the value of never giving up hope in uncertain times? ›

The historical legacy of Juneteenth shows the value of never giving up hope in uncertain times. The National Museum of African American History and Culture is a community space where this spirit of hope lives on.

Should companies acknowledge Juneteenth? ›

If your organization does not have a plan to acknowledge or celebrate Juneteenth, now is as good a time as any to consider doing so. This holiday goes beyond giving Black employees an opportunity to celebrate their heritage and acknowledge the relentless struggle to rise from slavery.

What is the historical significance of Juneteenth? ›

Dating back to 1865, Juneteenth commemorates the day when 250,000 slaves in the state of Texas, which became the last bastion for slavery during the final days of the Civil War, were declared free by the U.S. Army.

Why is it important to acknowledge both Juneteenth and Independence day? ›

It allows each generation to reflect what more there is to do. Juneteenth places Black people at the center of the conversation about freedom, it's meaning and manifestation in this nation. July 4th is about liberty, but it was an imperfect liberty, because slavery still legally existed in the nation.

What were some reasons for the decline in Juneteenth celebrations? ›

Decline & Resurgence of Juneteenth Celebrations

However, in the early twentieth century, celebrations declined for reasons including but not limited to Jim Crow laws, a rise in patriotism that centered July 4th as the major summer holiday and the Great Depression.

How do you commemorate Juneteenth? ›

Aside from barbecue, the color red has been a through line for Juneteenth food for generations. Red symbolizes the bloodshed and sacrifice of enslaved ancestors. A Juneteenth menu might incorporate items like barbecued ribs or other red meat, watermelon and red velvet cake.

How do you respectfully acknowledge Juneteenth? ›

How to Honor and Celebrate Juneteenth
  1. Learn the History.
  2. Center Black Voices and Stories.
  3. Explore the Legacy of Slavery Today.
  4. Attend an Event or Gathering.
  5. Support Black Communities.
  6. Suggested Reading on Juneteenth and Anti-Racism.
Jun 13, 2023

What is the appropriate message for Juneteenth? ›

Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a better person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

Was Texas the last state to free slaves? ›

While Texas was the last Confederate state where enslaved people officially gained their freedom, there were holdouts elsewhere in the country.

Why do blacks celebrate Juneteenth? ›

Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day, is celebrated annually on June 19 to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln on Jan. 1, 1863, declared freedom for enslaved people in Confederate states.

What are Juneteenth colors? ›

The official Juneteenth flag was red, white and blue displaying that all American slaves and their decendants were Americans. However, many in the black community have adopted the Pan-African flag, red black and green. The colors represent the blood, soil and prosperity of africa and its people.

Was Juneteenth the end of slavery? ›

Juneteenth honors the date, June 19, 1865, when the last Confederate community of enslaved Americans in Galveston, Texas, received word that they had been freed from bondage.

Should I say "Happy Juneteenth"? ›

Just Say 'Happy Juneteenth! ' The easiest way to wish someone a Happy Juneteenth is by messaging them and wishing them a fulfilled day. Similar to Black History Month, and other important anniversaries to Black Americans, it is important to acknowledge it as an American holiday, even if you do not celebrate it.

What is meaningful about Juneteenth? ›

On June 19, 1865, Union Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and announced the end of slavery, effectively emancipating the remaining enslaved individuals in Texas. This momentous event became known as Juneteenth, a combination of "June" and "nineteenth."

What does Juneteenth memorialize? ›

Juneteenth is the day that commemorates the end of slavery in the confederate states. The word "Juneteenth" is a combination of "June" and "nineteenth," which is the day in 1865 when the Union Army established authority over Texas.

What is the statement of Juneteenth? ›

Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. It is also known as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Juneteenth Independence Day, and Black Independence Day. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX, and announced the end of the civil war and the end of slavery.

What is a quote about Juneteenth? ›

We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” — Martin Luther King Jr. “If the cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail.


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