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In recent years, Juneteenth has risen in prominence. On June 17th, 2021, President Biden signed a resolution to make Juneteenth a national holiday.

What is Juneteenth?

“Juneteenth” (“June” and “nineteenth”), also known as Freedom Day, Black Independence Day, and Emancipation Day, is a Federal Holiday commemorating June 19, 1865. This day not only celebrates  the freedom of American Slaves, it marks the day that government freed the last remaining slaves in Galveston, Texas. More than two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation outlawed slavery in the Confederacy and two months after the Civil War officially ended.
The declaration by General Grainger to bring the Emancipation Proclamation into effect in Texas is seen by many as the end of slavery as it finally brought the practice to an end in the last state still holding the enslaved.
Juneteenth celebration at the memorial for George Floyd Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

We continue to grapple with the tensions of simultaneously celebrating steps made towards Black freedom and struggling for its total manifestation. Just earlier this year, at the exact same time the guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin was being read in the murder of George Floyd, and the lost life of a precious and beautiful Black girl, Ma’Khia Bryant, after she called the police for help.

This weekend, and every Juneteenth, let’s honor our Ancestors by acknowledging that which is good in our lives and pause to revel in it. Let’s actively build spaces of Black freedom and struggle to make freedom real everywhere. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us as we inherit the obligation to continue the work to build a free future for all Black people.

This message is inspired by and includes reflections from Melanye T. Price’s “The Ongoing Significance of Juneteenth,” which you can read in full here. Melanye is an Endowed Professor of Political Science at Prairie View A&M University and principal investigator for their African American Studies Initiative. The essay is the first installment in a forthcoming political education program entitled the neXus Project. Working in collaboration with Scholars 4 Black Lives. The project will officially launch this August.

Resources to learn and share:

Article: Teaching Juneteenth

Article: What is Juneteenth

Texas Memorial 

For Kids:

Recommended Literature:

Grades PK – 5

  • Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford
  • Juneteenth by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
  • All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom
    by Angela Johnson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
  • Juneteenth fo Mazie by Floyd Cooper

Grades 6 – 12

  • Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom by Charles Taylor
  • Tiny’s Emancipation by Linda Baten Johnson
  • Come Juneteenth by Ann Rinaldi