Although it was only in 2021 that Juneteenth was officially declared a federal holiday, author Nicole A. Taylor has been celebrating for years. More than a decade, in fact. And for good reason. Juneteenth, or June 19, 1865 was the day that enslaved people in Texas learned the news that Abraham Lincoln had issued the emancipation proclamation in 1863, making them the final state to be freed of slavery.
To celebrate this now nationally recognized holiday, we spoke with Taylor to discuss her third cookbook, Watermelon and Red Birds: A Cookbook for Juneteenth and Black Celebrations—the first collection of recipes of its kind, dedicated to and inspired by Juneteenth. As she gears up for her own celebratory weekend, she notes that this time of year is beautiful because “so many people—Black and white, all Americans—are really excited about Juneteenth being this newly nationally recognized holiday.”