June 12, 2023
In 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act. By doing so, he approved the first federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983:
“On Juneteenth, we recommit ourselves to the work of equity, equality, and justice. And we celebrate the centuries of struggle, courage, and hope that have brought us to this time of progress and possibility. That work has been led throughout our history by abolitionists and educators, Civil Rights advocates and lawyers, courageous activists and trade unionists, public officials, and everyday Americans who have helped make real the ideals of our founding documents for all.” – President Biden, A Proclamation on Juneteenth Day of Observance, 2021
On June 19, 1865, the Union Army arrived in Galveston, Texas, and took control of the state to ensure that all enslaved people were freed. This day, two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, came to be known as “Juneteenth.”
Today, Juneteenth celebrations are held across the country with events, entertainment, and educational awareness. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of this holiday, be sure to explore the following Library reads and resources:
Suggested Reads (All Ages):
- Juneteenth: The Story Behind the Celebration by Edward T. Cotham – Using decades of research, this is the first scholarly book that delves into the history behind Juneteenth.
- On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed – Essays that interweave American history and explore Juneteenth’s legacy; written by a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Texas native
- The History of Juneteenth: A History Book for New Readers by Arlisha Norwood – A colorfully illustrated story about June 19, 1865
- Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper – Mazie wants the freedom to stay up late and her father takes the opportunity to teach her about Juneteenth and the history of freedom for Black people.
- Night Before Freedom by Glenda Armand – Grandma shares the story she learned from her own grandmother of the emancipation from Texas, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.
- African American Music Reference – More than 3,000 essays and images that cover of blues, jazz, spirituals, civil rights songs, and other forms of black American musical expression.
- Black Thought and Culture – More than 100,000 pages of speeches, essays, articles, and interviews written by leaders within the black community from earliest times to 1975.
- Slavery and Anti-Slavery – A collection devoted to scholarly study and understanding slavery from a multinational perspective
- Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice, 1490-2007 – A portal for slavery and abolition studies, bringing together documents and collections covering an extensive time period from 1490-2007
Information and Reader Services Department