Theme Ride Thursday: Celebrating Juneteenth with This Bucket Playlist

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, is celebrated on June 19. This significant day marks the end of slavery in the United States. The name “Juneteenth” combines “June” and “nineteenth,” reflecting the date in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to ensure that all enslaved people were freed. This event occurred two years after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and two months after the Confederacy surrendered, ending the Civil War. At the time, around four million people were enslaved in the United States.

In 2021, Juneteenth became an official holiday in the United States. The day is also recognized by organizations in various countries to honor the end of slavery and celebrate African American culture and achievements.

Music has always played a crucial role in commemorating historical milestones. For Juneteenth and Black History Month, I’ve curated a playlist featuring African American artists across various genres. This playlist includes 280 standout tracks, though it could easily expand into the thousands. The goal is not to overwhelm but to provide a rich starting point for exploration. If you find a song you love, click on the artist’s discography to dive deeper into their work.

Using music by African American artists in your cycling classes not only enhances the ride but also serves as a tribute to the rich cultural contributions of the Black community. These songs can infuse your sessions with energy, inspiration, and a deeper connection to the significance of Juneteenth and Black History Month.

Happy riding, and let’s pedal to the powerful rhythms of freedom and resilience!

Freedom, Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar, 4:50, 84 bpm
This song is an anthem for African American empowerment. It’s a good choice for a warm-up or an endurance or recovery segment in your profile.

Freedom, Pharell Williams, 2:42, 86 bpm
The song celebrates diversity and personal freedom. It promotes different cultures and traditions while also calling for positive action for social change. In the studio, it’s a peppy track for intervals, though it can also work for a recovery. It’s fun to use as your second warm-up song, starting at 86 rpm and surging the legs 10–15 rpm on the chorus.

Black Parade, Beyoncé, 4:20, 120 bpm
Another song by Queen Bey, “Black Parade” was released on June 19, 2019, the year that George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were killed. It followed a mass call to action for Black lives. Proceeds of the song also supported Beyoncé’s Black Business Impact Fund. It’s a poignant addition to your Juneteenth or Black History Month ride. Use it for a slow, steep climb.

Glory, Common, John Legend, 4:33, 83 bpm
John Legend and Common collaborated to record this inspiring anthem for the American historical drama film Selma. The movie depicts the series of three 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches, pivotal events that culminated in President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Use this as a powerful closing track for your ride.

A Change is Gonna Come, Sam Cooke, 3:11 
Another powerful anthem for hope and change; use it as a cool-down or post-class track as your riders are collecting their things and collecting their thoughts after your ride. 

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