Juneteenth is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth. June 19, 1865, was the day General Gordan Granger announced the end of slavery in Texas and the emancipation of slaves throughout the confederate South. It was on June 19 that Granger publicly read General Order No. 3, which began: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” Although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed almost two and a half years earlier and freed the slaves in 1863, slaves in land under confederate control were not freed. On this day African American freedom and achievement are celebrated.
Juneteenth, the African American Emancipation Day or Freedom Day as it is known by some, has its origins in Galveston, Texas. It is a state holiday in Texas and is observed on June 19. Last year, Texas celebrated the 153rd anniversary of Juneteenth. Galveston, Texas, is home of many celebrations such as the Juneteenth Development Corporation Gala, Juneteenth Gala, Banquet, Prayer Breakfast, Emancipation March, and Program. Forty-one states and the District of Columbia recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or state holiday observance through a bill or resolution according to the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation.
Google Juneteenth celebrations in your city to see what’s going on. In Atlanta, there will be a Juneteenth Parade and Music Festival and a celebration at the Atlanta History Center. Washington, DC, also has a host of Juneteenth Celebrations.
To find information about celebrations around the world and in the United States, visit http://juneteenth.com/howtocelebrate.htm.
Suggestions for Celebrations
There are several ways to celebrate Juneteenth, including:
- Hosting a community Juneteenth flag-raising ceremony
- Presenting Juneteenth displays in the school library
- Planning a trip to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture to celebrate Juneteenth. If you can’t make it to the museum in person watch the video narrated by the museum’s founding director Lonnie Bunch III at https://nmaahc.si.edu/blog-post/celebrating-juneteenth.
- Reading the Emancipation Proclamation https://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured-documents/emancipation-proclamation
There are a number of Juneteenth books that you may want to incorporate into your school library collection:
- Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford (2007, Lee and Low)
- All Different Now: Juneteenth the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson and E.B. Lewis (2014, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
- Juneteenth for Mazie by Cooper by Floyd Cooper (2016, Picture Window Books)
- The Story of Juneteenth: An Interactive History Adventure by Steven Otfinoski (2015, Capstone Press)
Do you plan to celebrate Juneteenth? If so, share your plans below.
Acosta, Theresa Palemo. 2010. “Juneteenth.” https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/lkj01.
Author: Michelle Easley
Michelle Easley is the author of How to Increase Diversity in School Library Collections and Programs. Michelle is a national presenter, diversity and library advocate, consultant and speaker. Michelle spends her free time volunteering with homeless youth.