Dr. Sunyatta's Washington Post Feature
Food and drink play an essential role in independence celebrations the world over. For many Black Americans, Independence Day is celebrated on June 19, or “Juneteenth” — the day in 1865 when residents of Galveston, Texas, learned that slavery in the United States had been abolished, two months after the end of the Civil War and 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Today’s Juneteenth celebrations take place everywhere: backyards, parks, as well as at large festivals and parades. And Congress finally got in on the action last year, declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday.
Juneteenth gatherings customarily feature red foods, which are used to symbolize resilience and joy. Delectable strawberry pie, barbecue, red rice, watermelon, hot sauce, red velvet cake and red sausages on the grill are all abundant. But no celebration would ever be complete without Red Drink.
This beloved drink is a modern take on traditional African hibiscus ginger tea, and is often said to revitalize the mind, body and soul. In fact, the color red is often associated with ancestral reverence in West African traditions. This ubiquitous elixir remains popular as it links our present to our past through food memories.