This weekend is special for two D.C.-area bookstore owners who are inviting people from across the region to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary and Juneteenth together.
Ramunda Young and her husband Derrick are the owners and founders of Mahogany Books, with locations in Southeast D.C. and National Harbor in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
On Saturday, they are inviting all to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary, 15 years of being business owners and the freedoms of Juneteenth. They will have a vow renewal and street ceremony in front of their National Harbor bookstore.
Ramunda said she’s excited because of “this joy that we have, that we can do it now in front of the community and have them join us.”
She said that it’s a celebration of love and freedom and that they wanted the community to be a part of it.
“Here we are, in a bookstore where it was illegal for us to even read, so we kind of defied both of those,” Ramunda said, referring to being able to get married as a Black couple and to having the freedom of education. “We own a bookstore so we’re free to read but we’re also free to marry who we want to marry.”
The vow renewal ceremony will take place outside of their National Harbor store on American Way in Oxon Hill on Saturday at 11 a.m. They are asking for those coming to celebrate to bring a new or gently used children’s book to donate.
They want everyone to wear red, black and green to celebrate Juneteenth too.
“Enslaved people were not allowed to marry, right? It was not a thing,” Ramunda said. “But it was always important to our community to show marriage, to show that we were connected to each other,”
Juneteenth marks June 19,1865, when the last enslaved Black Americans learned that they were free under the Emancipation Proclamation, which took effect in 1863.
Derrick said owning a Black bookstore helps educate the community as a whole.
“When you open a book you’re able to now see someone else’s experience, someone else’s world view and just so that you can better emphasize with them,” Derrick said.