By Sydney Bucksbaum
June 19, 2020 at 06:38 PM EDT
Late Night with Seth Meyers - Season 5

Did your history classes in school fail to educate you on the important meaning behind June 19 a.k.a. Juneteenth, the day that signifies the end of slavery in the United States? Well, Late Night With Seth Meyers writer Amber Ruffin is here to answer all of your frequently asked questions about the holiday, from what it is to how it is celebrated and more.

During Thursday's episode of the NBC late-night show, Ruffin picked from a bowl of questions anonymously submitted about Juneteenth that people might be too embarrassed to ask.

"Juneteenth is the anniversary of June 19, 1865; that's the day the last American slaves were freed, otherwise known as the last good day in Black history," Ruffin says before laughing. "No, I'm just kidding a little bit. It's the day we celebrate our freedom and see how far we've come."

Ruffin also explains why slavery didn't end for two years after the Emancipation Proclamation lawfully freed slaves in 1863. "After slaves had been freed and the Civil War was over, some people in Texas still had slaves and would not let them go," she notes. "Then they were arrested for brazenly disobeying the law. Just kidding. Slave owners have never been punished."

Other questions that Ruffin addressed during the segment include how the holiday is celebrated. "Usually Juneteenth is celebrated during like a block party with fun music and good food where a little girl sings 'Lift Every Voice and Sing' while I shout at her, 'You had better get that song sung, baby,'" she says. "But this year, because of COVID, we're all going to celebrate by watching Alicia Keys and John Legend battle it out on Verzuz."

As for whether or not white people can celebrate Juneteenth, Ruffin says yes: "You celebrate it by being thankful that your Black friends and family are free to be whatever they want to be, then you do your best to make that statement true — no costumes, please."

However, there's one question she has a problem with: "Does the holiday Juneteenth make up for all the...?" Ruffin doesn't even finish the question, and immediately replies, "No. We're not going to finish that question. The answer is 'no,' no matter what the end of it was."

Watch Ruffin's informative and entertaining segment in its entirety above.

To help combat systemic racism, please consider donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero, which is dedicated to ending police brutality in America through research-based strategies.
  • Color of Change, which works to move decision makers in corporations and government to be more responsive to racial disparities.
  • Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal services to people who have been wrongly convicted, denied a fair trial, or abused in state jails and prisons.

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Late Night with Seth Meyers - Season 5

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