Juneteenth, celebrated on and around June 19, is the name given to Emancipation Day by African Americans in Texas and is now celebrated nationwide. Although it’s often cited as America’s second independence day and one of the most popular annual celebrations of emancipation from slavery in the country, many Americans still don’t know about this important holiday.
The origins of Juneteenth began on June 19, 1865, when Union Major-General Gordon Granger and his troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, and read General Order No. 3
, which stated, in part:
“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”
Celebrations soon began, and Juneteenth became akin to another Fourth of July for black Americans. As this country continues to strive for full equality and justice to all Americans, the importance of celebrating and acknowledging Juneteenth has never been more vital.
As of this writing, 46 states and Washington, D.C., recognize Juneteenth in some capacity as a holiday or official observance, but Juneteenth has yet to be declared a federal holiday. A growing list of companies, such as Twitter, Nike, Square, and Vox Media, have now declared Juneteenth a paid company holiday.
Here’s a roundup of resources you can use at home or in the classroom to better understand and know Juneteenth:
- This post from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission is good place to start and includes links to more information.
- Michael Hurd, director of the Texas Institute for the Preservation of History and Culture at Prairie View A&M University, writes in Texas Highways about his understanding of Juneteenth from a young boy to his job as a historian.
- Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Ph.D., provides a history lesson on Juneteenth.
- This 2018 interview with Karlos Hill, Ph.D., department chair and associate professor of African and African American studies at the University of Oklahoma, delves into the history of Juneteenth, the movement to make it a national holiday, and why commemorating the holiday could bring America even closer to embracing its founding ideals of freedom.
- Visit the website of the National Museum of African American History & Culture for a wide variety of resources: Learn about the historical legacy of Juneteenth; don’t miss this online event to celebrate, learn, and reflect on Juneteenth itself; and watch a virtual tour of some of the museums exhibits.
- This article from Teaching Tolerance breaks up teaching Juneteenth into several different categories and offers several different lesson plans—one centered on Juneteenth itself and another on culture as resistance.
- This blog post from Edutopia lists four ways to celebrate Juneteenth with students.