Juneteenth is a celebration of the emancipation of Black slaves in America. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862, and went into effect on January 1, 1863, many slaves were not informed of their freedom until more than 2 years later when Major General Gordon Granger landed in Texas and informed slaves of their freedom. Our current President, Joe Biden, signed legislation on June 17, 2021, making Juneteenth a federal holiday. However, Juneteenth has been a celebration of freedom and a remembrance of those who perished as slaves for the last 157 years by Black families in America.

As with any summer-time celebration, there is a feast of food, good music, friends and loved ones gathered together to chow down – in this case to celebrate their freedom. You can expect the backyards of many Black families to be filled with smoke from meats being barbequed on the grill, homemade potato salad, baked beans, greens – collard, kale, and string beans, fried fish, seafood salad, corn on the cob, deviled eggs, and a host of desserts to round off the Juneteenth feast. But did you know that there is at least one drink and one dessert made for Juneteenth specifically for its red color, and the significance which red depicts for those who lost their lives due to the Middle Passage and slavery as well as those who were brutalized during their enslavement?

While it may not be widely known or recognized, strawberry lemonade (or strawberry soda) and red velvet cake are included in the Juneteenth fare specifically to remember the blood shed during the United States’ enslavement of Black people. Just as the red in the red, black, and green Pan-African flag (also called the Marcus Garvey, UNIA, Afro-American or Black Liberation flag) represents the blood shed by Africans who died in their fight for liberation,* the red color in strawberry lemonade/soda and red velvet cake is in remembrance of those slaves who fought for their freedom and were murdered and brutalized.

During my family’s Juneteenth celebration, I make Strawberry Ginger Lemonade in remembrance of the brutality and lives lost during the time of slavery. Once the feast has been prepared and before the commencement of eating, we do a small ritual of pouring libations to our Ancestors with the strawberry lemonade. A moment of silence is invoked, and an elder then blesses the food that we are now free to enjoy – no more eating scraps and trash that were given to the slaves as sustenance…

As with any summer-time celebration, there is a feast of food, good music, friends and loved ones gathered together to chow down – in this case to celebrate their freedom. You can expect the backyards of many Black families to be filled with smoke from meats being barbequed on the grill, homemade potato salad, baked beans, greens – collard, kale, and string beans, fried fish, seafood salad, corn on the cob, deviled eggs, and a host of desserts to round off the Juneteenth feast. But did you know that there is at least one drink and one dessert made for Juneteenth specifically for its red color, and the significance which red depicts for those who lost their lives due to the Middle Passage and slavery as well as those who were brutalized during their enslavement?

While it may not be widely known or recognized, strawberry lemonade (or strawberry soda) and red velvet cake are included in the Juneteenth fare specifically to remember the blood shed during the United States’ enslavement of Black people. Just as the red in the red, black, and green Pan-African flag (also called the Marcus Garvey, UNIA, Afro-American or Black Liberation flag) represents the blood shed by Africans who died in their fight for liberation,* the red color in strawberry lemonade/soda and red velvet cake is in remembrance of those slaves who fought for their freedom and were murdered and brutalized.

During my family’s Juneteenth celebration, I make Strawberry Ginger Lemonade in remembrance of the brutality and lives lost during the time of slavery. Once the feast has been prepared and before the commencement of eating, we do a small ritual of pouring libations to our Ancestors with the strawberry lemonade. A moment of silence is invoked, and an elder then blesses the food that we are now free to enjoy – no more eating scraps and trash that were given to the slaves as sustenance…

On this Juneteenth 2022, I share with you my Strawberry Ginger Lemonade recipe. This recipe is enough for a 3-quart pitcher:

Ingredients

6-8 Lemons
Water
½ – 1 lb Fresh Strawberries
Fresh Ginger Root (a little goes a long way; add enough for your taste preference)
Honey
Fresh Mint Leaves
Ice

Preparation

  1. Grate or finely chop the ginger root and place in a pot with 4 cups of water (if making a 3-quart pitcher; less water for smaller amounts). Gently boil for 10 – 15 minutes, longer for a stronger ginger flavor.
  2. While the ginger-water is boiling, remove the green stem from the strawberries, place in a blender and puree. If you don’t have a blender, place strawberries in a bowl and mash/mix with a fork until pureed. Set aside.
  3. Roll the lemons on the counter to soften them. Cut them in half and squeeze the lemon juice into the pitcher. Slice the squeezed lemons and set aside.
  4. Transfer the boiled ginger-water into a pitcher and add honey. Stir the mixture until the honey has dissolved completely. Be careful – the water is hot!
  5. Add the pureed strawberries and stir to mix ingredients.
  6. Fill the pitcher the rest of the way with water. Stir until ingredients are blended with the additional water. Add more honey for a sweeter taste, or more water to make it less sweet.
  7. Add ice to glass and a lemon slice, pour Strawberry Ginger Lemonade over the ice and garnish with a sprig of mint.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

On this Juneteenth 2022, I share with you my Strawberry Ginger Lemonade recipe. This recipe is enough for a 3-quart pitcher:

Ingredients

6-8 Lemons
Water
½ – 1 lb Fresh Strawberries
Fresh Ginger Root (a little goes a long way; add enough for your taste preference)
Honey
Fresh Mint Leaves
Ice

Preparation

  1. Grate or finely chop the ginger root and place in a pot with 4 cups of water (if making a 3-quart pitcher; less water for smaller amounts). Gently boil for 10 – 15 minutes, longer for a stronger ginger flavor.
  2. While the ginger-water is boiling, remove the green stem from the strawberries, place in a blender and puree. If you don’t have a blender, place strawberries in a bowl and mash/mix with a fork until pureed. Set aside.
  3. Roll the lemons on the counter to soften them. Cut them in half and squeeze the lemon juice into the pitcher. Slice the squeezed lemons and set aside.
  4. Transfer the boiled ginger-water into a pitcher and add honey. Stir the mixture until the honey has dissolved completely. Be careful – the water is hot!
  5. Add the pureed strawberries and stir to mix ingredients.
  6. Fill the pitcher the rest of the way with water. Stir until ingredients are blended with the additional water. Add more honey for a sweeter taste, or more water to make it less sweet.
  7. Add ice to glass and a lemon slice, pour Strawberry Ginger Lemonade over the ice and garnish with a sprig of mint.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

Make it intentionally! As you gather your supplies and ingredients, set an intention for creating the Strawberry Ginger Lemonade (e.g., in remembrance of the slaves who were brutalized and murdered). As you slowly and intentionally create this refreshing and healthy drink, stay present to the intention you have set for this refreshment. Take your time and create the Strawberry Ginger Lemonade with Love at the center. Mix slowly and intentionally, calling in your Ancestors’ presence and focusing on the goal of honoring Self as you honor whatever intention you have chosen. You honor your Self by drinking the ginger infused strawberry lemonade, reaping the many health benefits of the ginger root, such as infusing your body with choline – an important building block of neurotransmitters that help your brain and nerves fire. Choline also boosts your metabolism and helps support your mood and muscle functions.**

It is my hope that you will join me on this upcoming Juneteenth – June 19, 2022 – in making some Strawberry Ginger Lemonade to honor and celebrate those Black Americans who were subjected to the slave trade in the United States.

*Source: NPR.ORG

**Source: WEBMD.COM

Make it intentionally! As you gather your supplies and ingredients, set an intention for creating the Strawberry Ginger Lemonade (e.g., in remembrance of the slaves who were brutalized and murdered). As you slowly and intentionally create this refreshing and healthy drink, stay present to the intention you have set for this refreshment. Take your time and create the Strawberry Ginger Lemonade with Love at the center. Mix slowly and intentionally, calling in your Ancestors’ presence and focusing on the goal of honoring Self as you honor whatever intention you have chosen. You honor your Self by drinking the ginger infused strawberry lemonade, reaping the many health benefits of the ginger root, such as infusing your body with choline – an important building block of neurotransmitters that help your brain and nerves fire. Choline also boosts your metabolism and helps support your mood and muscle functions.**

It is my hope that you will join me on this upcoming Juneteenth – June 19, 2022 – in making some Strawberry Ginger Lemonade to honor and celebrate those Black Americans who were subjected to the slave trade in the United States.

*Source: NPR.ORG

**Source: WEBMD.COM

Sumaiyah Wysdom Yates is MUSEA : Intentional Creativity Foundation’s Tech Systems Coordinator, an Intentional Creativity Educator, active Intentional Creativity Guild Member, active Sacred ECHOES of the Well Member, and the Chief Creative Catalyst for the DIVA Empowerment Studio.

Sumaiyah Wysdom Yates