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June 19, 1865.
That’s the day Texans finally learned “in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” Major General Gordon Granger issued this order, which is in and of itself a big deal, but it’s an even bigger deal when this information reached Texas TWO AND A HALF YEARS after the Emancipation Proclamation.
That’s roughly 913 days, if you do the math.
June 19 is an important date in Texas history — a monumental day.
But it wasn’t the end of something; it was the start of something. That something continues today. Freedom and equality didn’t magically appear for people of color on June 19. It’s been growing and struggling and evolving since. That process, dear friend, is something you can be part of today.
Juneteenth — an official Texas holiday and now a FEDERAL holiday — is coming soon, and here is how you can prepare.
For the Children
Our children may miss out on the education and celebration of Juneteenth because this holiday isn’t covered in the classroom often because June 19 usually falls after the school term ends. This year, for some districts, school doesn’t end until June 18.
This makes 2021 a great year to contact your school administration and teachers to request Juneteenth be taught and discussed in the classrooms this year. Even better, volunteer to be part of that either by creating a lesson template or reading to a class, etc. The more info you can provide, the less work the school has to curate to make it happen.
However, regardless if Juneteenth is taught in the classroom each year, YOU can make sure your kids are aware of and celebrate this special holiday.
Here are some ideas (and you can find MANY more on the good ol’ Internet).
- All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson
- Juneteenth: A Children’s Story by Opal Lee
- Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper
- Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford
- Juneteenth (On My Own Holidays) by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and Drew Nelson
- Raven the Great: What Is Juneteenth? by Dr. Paulette McClain
- Sophie and Lelah Celebrate Juneteenth by L. Monique Gonzalez
- The Story of Juneteenth: An Interactive History Adventure by Steven Otfinoski
- Traditional African American Arts and Activities by Sonya Kimble-Ellis
- Brain Pop: What Is Juneteenth?
- Juneteenth by PBS Kids
- Juneteenth: What You Need to Know
- The Meaning Behind Juneteenth
- What Is Juneteenth?
- Why All Americans Should Honor Juneteenth
- Celebrate Juneteenth!
- “Four Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth with Students” by Danielle Moss Lee
- Learning for Justice
- Teachers Pay Teachers Juneteenth resources
For the Adults
Keep an eye on your streaming services at June 19 nears. There will most likely be new documentaries and educational videos hitting the airwaves.
The following is a curated list of books, videos, and websites
- African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
- Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery by Leon Litwack
- Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison
- Visit juneteenth.com
- “Juneteenth: Emancipation and Memory” by Elizabeth Hayes Turner found in Lone Star Pasts: Memory and History in Texas
- On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed
- Texas State Historical Association: Juneteenth
- Texas State Library and Archives Commissions: Juneteenth
- The National Juneteenth Observation Foundation
- The Juneteenth Book Festival Symposium on Black Literature and Literacy
- The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
- What Is Juneteenth documentary by The Root