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Juneteenth: Learning, Sharing, & Honoring

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19th, each year, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865, when news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas, the last Confederate state, two-and-a-half years after it came into law. In 2021, President Biden signed a bill making June 19th a federal holiday to designate that date as the official end of slavery in the United States.

Now that Juneteenth is a widespread celebration across the nation, we must be sure to discuss its significance with the nation’s youth.

Here are some FAQs to help guide you:

Did slavery really end on Juneteenth?

While Juneteenth comes as a celebratory achievement as the end of slavery on paper and in theory, it took Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation to spread the news, the Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery throughout the country, and the enforcement of these new laws to truly signify its end, which did not happen all at once across the U.S.

Is Juneteenth known as anything else?

Juneteenth is also called Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, or Jubilee Day.

How can I honor Juneteenth in my school district?

Where can I learn more about the historical meaning of Juneteenth and the Black experience?

There are several resources providing excellent information:

Juneteenth I Blackademics - Jordan & Mia Smith

Freedom on Juneteenth” - Karamu House, the oldest Black theater company in the U.S., created this amazing theatrical production film

How to Talk to Kids About Race - Jeremy Tisby from The Atlantic on YouTube

“Juneteenth Is Important” - The Root on TEDEd

Juneteenth” episode of black-ish

Meet the ‘Grandmother of Juneteenth’- Opal Lee” on GMA

Videos geared towards kids include:

Juneteenth” by PBS Kids

The Meaning Behind Juneteenth” by Global News

Great children’s books about Juneteenth include:

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson

Eboni’s Juneteenth Celebration by Debbie Norton & Tiye Samone

Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle

The Night Before Freedom: A Juneteenth Story by Glenda Armand & Cory Barksdale

Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth by Alice Faye Duncan

Books about Juneteenth & the black experience for middle school students include:

Addy: An American Girl by Connie Rose Porter

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson

Come Juneteenth by Ann Rinaldi

I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly: The Diary of Patsy, a Freed Girl by Joyce Hansen

Juneteenth: Freedom Day by Murial Miller Branch

Books great for high school students to explore racism & the Black experience include:

145th Street: Short Stories by Walter Dean Myers

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America Edited by Ibi Zoboi

Dark Sky Rising: Reconstruction and the Dawn of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

The Fierce 44: Black Americans Who Shook Up the World by Robert Ball

The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks

Remembering Slavery: African Americans Talk about Their Personal Experiences of Slavery & Emancipation by Ira Berlin (ed), Marc Favreau (ed), & Steven F. Miller (ed)

Death Struggles of Slaves in Their Efforts for Freedom by William Still

We Are Not Yet Equal: Understanding the Racial Divide by Carol Anderson


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