Coronado Beach Sunset
J.D. Simkins
Forest, beach, or backyard. One organization wants you outside and reflecting on what freedom truly means.
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Outdoor Afro, a national network promoting inclusivity for Black people in the outdoors, is hosting a special time of reflection on June 19 to commemorate the recently-recognized federal holiday Juneteenth.

Annually observed, the now-official holiday marks the anniversary of the 1865 liberation of 250,000 enslaved Black men, women, and children in Galveston, Texas, where they were kept in bondage under Confederate control for more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was declared by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

To honor that official day of liberation, Outdoor Afro, which now comprises a community of over a hundred thousand participants across 56 cities, is inviting all to spend a couple hours in the outdoors—whether it be a forest, beach, or backyard—and contemplate what the freedom to enjoy these wonderful places truly means.

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“The question we ask ourselves is ‘What does freedom mean to me in America?'” the announcement reads. “Spend 2.5 hours in nature to reflect in honor of the 2.5 years freedom was delayed for 250,000 enslaved people of Galveston, TX. Let’s go outdoors!”

After the period of reflection, participants are encouraged to submit their thoughts online. The organization plans to publish and share a number of the responses.

“We are sharing what freedom means to us,” the event page says. “Now we would like to know what freedom in America means to you.”

Outdoor Afro is led by a cohort of volunteers, who organize and guide over 1,000 events annually that immerse thousands from the Black community in activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, birding, gardening, biking, and more.

You can learn more here about Outdoor Afro and the initiatives the organization has in store.