June 19, 1865 is a day that is held in high regards for this country, but more importantly for Black people who have come before, those in today’s society, and those who will come in the future. Respect Together is proud to recognize Juneteenth with the knowledge that racism and anti-Black racism is a root cause of sexual violence. I encourage everyone to check out the blog Respect Together is proud to honor Juneteenth to learn more. Although Juneteenth is now a federal holiday, for the Black community, it represents something far more important. I wanted to share some fabulous resources we recently acquired within the Respect Together Libraries. It is my hope that these rich resources offer insight into such an incredibly important time in our country.
Juneteenth: The Story Behind the Celebration by Edward T. Cotham, Jr. highlights the national day that celebrates the end of slavery. Events from across the country have brought this event into the national conversation about race, slavery, and how Americans understand what has been called, ‘the original sin.’ This is the first scholarly book to dive into the history behind Juneteenth. The author uses decades of research from archives around the country, to help pull together the information that separates myth from reality. The book also tells the story behind the celebration in a way that provides understanding and appreciation for the event.
On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed is a rich resource that weaves together history, family stories, and episodes of memoir. The book provides a historian’s view of the country’s long road to Juneteenth. It highlights its Texas origins and the hardships that African Americans have endured. Gordon-Reed a Texas native and descendent of enslaved people, carves a new and truthful narrative of her home state, with significance for all of us.
Resources for Children:
Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle traces the dignity and celebration of Juneteenth from its 1865 origins to more recent observances throughout the country. The book is an ode to the strength of Black Americans. As well as, a call to remember and honor a day of which is important far beyond the state of its origin of Texas. The book is written for children ages 4-8 years.
All Different Now: Juneteenth, The First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson is the story of the first Juneteenth, the day in which freedom finally came for slaves in Texas. Since then the observance of this momentous day has spread across the country and beyond. This picture book includes notes from the author and illustrator, a timeline with important dates, and a glossary of important terms. It is written for children ages 5-9.
The Juneteenth Story: Celebrating the End of Slavery in the United States by Alliah L. Agostini brings to light June 19, 1865, which was the day the enslaved people of Texas first learned about their freedom. Readers are able to learn about the events that led to emancipation and why it took so long for those in Texas to hear the news. The first celebration began as “Jubilee Day,” where families celebrated their new rights as citizens. Juneteenth continued to grow and develop as Black Texans moved to other parts of the country. This book is written for children ages 6-9.
Many may have Monday, June 20th off from work in observance, but perhaps these materials and others will help guide us to explore the reasons behind it. May we learn that it’s just not another day off, but it has a rich significance that everyone should be willing to learn about. I encourage everyone to check out the Respect Together Library collection for these works and the many more we have to offer. As always, I wish you all a wonderful day and happy reading!