Molly and her friends gather to celebrate Juneteenth in a special episode of 'Molly of Denali.'
PBS Kids

Molly of Denali Highlights The Many Ways To Celebrate Juneteenth In New Episode

From cookouts to rodeos to red foods, there are many ways to honor the spirit of Juneteenth.

We love summertime — the sun, the time off, the sound of the ice cream man coming down your block. But one thing summer isn’t great for? Holiday specials. Alas, summer is just a bit of a lull in the holiday programming calendar. But on June 17, PBS Kids’ Molly of Denali is fixing that with its own celebration of Juneteenth, which kicks off new episodes of the Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated series.

Trini, who moved to Alaska from Texas, wants to celebrate this special holiday the way her family always has, including with an elaborate rodeo. Fortunately, Molly and Tooey are always happy to help a friend in need, and they’re excited to plan Qyah’s first ever Juneteenth celebration... but how can they pull of an authentic celebration in Alaska?

But as Romper’s exclusive clip from the new Molly of Denali episode highlights, there’s no right or wrong way to celebrate the meaningful holiday. Just as Black culture and heritage are not a monolith, neither is observation of a day celebrating Black culture and heritage: as long as we share Black people’s stories, we’re honoring the spirit of Juneteenth.

While only made a federal holiday in 2021, Juneteenth has been celebrated in Black communities, particularly in Texas, since 1866 to mark the end of slavery. Specifically, it acknowledges the day in 1865 when Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been the law of the land since January 1, 1863. Moreover, Robert E. Lee had surrendered to Union forces on April 9, 1865 — the Civil War had officially ended months earlier.

Folks celebrate with cookouts and street fairs, rodeos, music, Miss Juneteenth contests, and public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation. Red foods, such as red velvet cake and red-hued drinks, are traditional fare and are meant to represent sacrifice and resilience. But, again, traditions vary depending on where you’re celebrating, and aside from honoring, remembering, and celebrating Blackness, there’s no “musts” on the list.

Subsequent episodes of Molly of Denali coming our way this summer will go on to celebrate culture and heritage, highlighting the environment and culture of Alaska and its Indigenous peoples. And of course, PBS Kids being PBS Kids, there’s a lot more educational fun coming our way, including all new episodes of Rosie’s Rules (June 24), Work It Out Wombats! (July 1), Brambletown (July 26), and Lyla in the Loop (Aug. 5).

New episodes of Molly of Denali, starting with its celebration of Juneteenth, will premiere on PBS Kids on June 17.