Celebrate Juneteenth: Historical and Contemporary Resources

Online Exhibit

On Juneteenth, the nation celebrates the end of slavery. The oldest holiday commemorating the emancipation of African Americans from chattel slavery was made into a national holiday on June 17, 2021. Juneteenth commemorates the day (June 19, 1865) when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas were told about the Emancipation Proclamation, signed two and half years earlier.

Juneteenth gives us the opportunity to honor the efforts made in the cause of African American freedom, as well as human emancipation more broadly, as our society seeks to more fully embrace its promise of Freedom for All.  The holiday also provides the opportunity to reflect on the devastating cost slavery and racism exact on our society and contemplate a better path forward.

Using the Library’s collections and historical documents, we learn that Juneteenth—also known as Jubilee, or Emancipation Day—began as small regional commemorations originating in Texas, slowly spreading to African American communities across the country. Understanding the need to mark, celebrate, and assert their freedom, community leaders promoted Juneteenth celebrations as spaces to showcase African American accomplishments and culture, develop networks of support, healing and rejuvenation, and to honor the struggle for civil and human rights.

The delay between the Emancipation Proclamation and the freedom celebrated on Juneteenth reveals that emancipation from slavery was a protracted process, experienced unevenly across the United States. It also shows that the end of slavery was not as the result of a single act or declaration, but a movement which gathered its strength through the force of collective action before, during, and after the Civil War. Juneteenth is the commemoration of a profound, nation-altering event—the end of slavery—but it is also the celebration of the process of liberation. As such, it provides us with the opportunity to plan for new emancipatory interventions that can disrupt the historic effects of slavery,  racial discrimination, and the denial of freedom that continue to impact society today.

In addition to the resources listed below, more information about Juneteenth and African American history can be found in the African and African American Studies Subject Guide.

What is Juneteenth?

Information on the origins and history of Juneteenth commemorations.

Abernethy, Francis Edward, Carolyn Fiedler Satterwhite, Patrick B. Mullen, and Alan B. Govenar. Juneteenth Texas: Essays in African American Folklore. 1st ed. Publications of the Texas Folklore Society ; No. 54. Denton, Tex: University of North Texas Press, 1996.

Douggie, Freddie, Ben Lamar Gay, and Jayve Montgomery. Live on Juneteenth. International Anthem, 2019.

Garrett-Scott, Shennette. “‘When Peace Come’: Teaching the Significance of Juneteenth.” Black History Bulletin 76, no. 2 (Summer/Fall ///Summer/Fall 2013 2013): 19–21.

Gates, Henry Louis. “What Is Juneteenth? African American History Blog | The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.” Accessed June 23, 2021. https://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/what-is-juneteenth

Gordon-Reed, Annette. On Juneteenth. First edition. Liveright Publishing Corporation, a division of WW Norton & Company, Inc, 2021.

Higgins, Molly. “Juneteenth: Fact Sheet.” Congressional Research Service, 2018. https://purl.fdlp.gov/GPO/gpo115013.

“Juneteenth World Wide Celebration.” Accessed June 23, 2021. https://www.juneteenth.com/.

May, Gary. and Cody T. Kitaura. “Chancellor May: Remember the Meaning of Juneteenth.” UC Davis, June 18, 2020. https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/chancellor-may-remember-meaning-juneteenth.

Richardson, Rebecca Cumminps, Venita Dillard-Allen, and Shennette Garrett-Scott. “Teaching Resources for ‘When Peace Come’:Teaching the Emancipation Proclamation and Juneteenth”.” Black History Bulletin 76, no. 2 (Summer/Fall ///Summer/Fall  2013): 22–25.

Taylor, Charles A. Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom. African American Celebrations Big Book Series. Madison, WI: Praxis Publications, 1995.

Turner, Elizabeth Hayes. “Juneteenth: The Evolution of an Emancipation Celebration.” European Contributions to American Studies 65 (October 2006): 69–81.

Zinn Education Project. “June 19, 1865: ‘Juneteenth’ Emancipation Day.” Accessed June 23, 2021. https://www.zinnedproject.org/news/tdih/juneteenth-emancipation-day/.

 

Juneteenth in Historical Context

Historical artifacts of Juneteenth commemorations from 1908-1966.

Emancipation Celebration: January 1st, 1929, 2:00 P.M., St. Paul A.M.E. Church, Madison, Georgia : [Program]. Madison, Georgia: St Paul AME Church, 1928.

“HOUSTON PREPS FOR BIG JUNETEENTH FETE: EX-SLAVES TO BE HONORED AT ANNUAL FROLIC Emancipation Park Waits Throngs For Barbecue And Dance Program.” The Chicago Defender (National Edition) (1921-1967). June 10, 1939.

Illinois American Negro Emancipation Centennial Commission. The Centennial Anniversary Celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation in Illinois: One Hundred Years after : A Report of the American Negro Emancipation Centennial Commission of Illinois to the 73rd Session of the General Assembly of the State of Illinois, 1961-1963. American Negro Emancipation Centennial Commission?, 1963.

“June ‘Teenth.’” The Chicago Defender (Big Weekend Edition) (1905-1966). July 3, 1915, sec. Editorial Page.

“NINETEENTH CELEBRATED: THE COLORED CITIZENS OBSERVE EMANCIPATION DAY WITH ORATIONS, MUSIC, GAMES, SPORTS AND OTHER AMUSEMENTS DIVIDE INTERESTS Large Number Go to Emancipation Park and Others to Idle Hour Park, Attractive Programs Being Arranged for Event.” The Austin Statesman (1902-1915). June 20, 1909.

Official Souvenir Program, 75 Years of Progress: Diamond Jubilee Celebration of Emancipation Proclamation : Wednesday Eve., September 27, 1939, Convention Hall … Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Diamond Jubilee Celebration Committee?, 1939.

Walker, Margaret. Jubilee. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966.

 

Examining the Meaning of Juneteenth Today

Articles, essays, and reflections on what Juneteenth means in the modern era.

Anonymous. “Jubilee/Juneteenth: How Our People Celebrated Freedom Time.” Black Issues Book Review, June 2003. https://www.proquest.com/ethnicnewswatch/docview/217785847/abstract/809ED6B088E54E9FPQ/3.

Carmichael, Jacqueline Miller. Trumpeting a Fiery Sound: History and Folklore in Margaret Walker’s Jubilee. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1998.

Ellison, Ralph. Juneteenth. 1st ed. New York: Random House, 1999.

Glasrud, Bruce A., Paul Howard Carlson, and Tai D. Kreidler. Slavery to Integration: Black Americans in West Texas. Abilene, Tex.: State House Press/McMurry University : Distributed by Texas A&M University Press Consortium, 2007.

Howell, Kenneth Wayne. Still the Arena of Civil War: Violence and Turmoil in Reconstruction Texas, 1865-1874. 1st ed. Denton, Tex.: University of North Texas Press, 2012.

Hume, Janice, and Noah Arceneaux. “Public Memory, Cultural Legacy, and Press Coverage of the Juneteenth Revival.” Journalism History 34, no. 3 (Fall 2008): 155–62. https://doi.org/10.1080/00947679.2008.12062768.

Kachun, Mitchell A. Festivals of Freedom: Memory and Meaning in African American Emancipation Celebrations, 1808-1915. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2003.

Moore, Alicia L., and La Vonne I. Neal. “At the Crossroads of Equality: Paths to Liberation and Progress.” Black History Bulletin 75, no. 2 (Fall 2012): 4–6.

Roediger, David R. Seizing Freedom: Slave Emancipation and Liberty for All. Verso, 2014.

Smallwood, James. Time of Hope, Time of Despair: Black Texans during Reconstruction. Series in Ethnic Studies. Port Washington, N.Y.: National University Publications, 1981.

Trice, Dawn Turner. An Eighth of August. 1st ed. New York: Crown Publishers, 2000.

Turner, Elizabeth Hayes. “Juneteenth: The Evolution of an Emancipation Celebration.” European Contributions to American Studies 65 (October 2006): 69–81.

Wiggins, William H. O Freedom!: Afro-American Emancipation Celebrations. 1st ed. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1987.

 

Making Juneteenth a National Holiday

The long campaign to make Juneteenth a national holiday, finally realized in 2021.

Anonymous. “Juneteenth Scrutiny at African American History Program.” Tri – State Defender. February 21, 2013, sec. COMMUNITY. https://www.proquest.com/ethnicnewswatch/docview/1318876829/abstract/809ED6B088E54E9FPQ/10.

Bailey, Amber. “Days of Jubilee.” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 109, no. 4 (Winter 2016): 353–73. https://doi.org/10.5406/jillistathistsoc.109.4.0353.

Blanck, Emily. “Galveston on San Francisco Bay: Juneteenth in the Fillmore District, 1945–2016.” Western Historical Quarterly 50, no. 2 (Summer 2019): 85–112. https://doi.org/10.1093/whq/whz003.

Blue, Carroll Parrott. “Emancipation Is a Park.” Houston History 9, no. 3 (Summer 2012): 15–18. .

Boonshoft, Mark. “New York’s Grand Emancipation Jubilee: Essays on Slavery, Resistance, Abolition, Teaching, and Historical Memory.” Public Historian 41, no. 1 (February 2019): 162–63. https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2019.41.1.162.

Cochran, Robert. “Juneteenth Texas: Essays in African-American Folklore.” African American Review 33, no. 4 (Winter 1999): 694–95.

Editors, The. “Juneteenth and the Emancipation Proclamation.” JSTOR Daily, June 18, 2020. https://daily.jstor.org/juneteenth-and-the-emancipation-proclamation/.

“Group Requests the Attention of Clinton to Observe Juneteenth.” Tri – State Defender. September 4, 1996. https://www.proquest.com/ethnicnewswatch/docview/367718860/abstract/809ED6B088E54E9FPQ/19.

Jeffries, Judson L. “Juneteenth, Black Texans and the Case for Reparations.” Negro Educational Review 55, no. 2/3 (July 2004): 107–15.

Jordan, Jamon. “Finally Freedom.” Chronicle: The Quarterly Magazine of the Historical Society of Michigan 38, no. 3 (Fall 2015): 29–31.

“Juneteenth…A Celebration Of African American Freedom.” The Messenger Magazine, June 2002. https://www.proquest.com/ethnicnewswatch/docview/211120323/abstract/809ED6B088E54E9FPQ/20.

McCalope, Michelle. “June Teenth: Celebrating African American Independence Day.” The New Crisis, June 2001. .

Reed, William. “Juneteenth Is Worth Celebrating.” Sacramento Observer. June 20, 2013.

———. “Make Juneteenth a National Holiday.” Washington Informer. June 5, 2014, sec. BUSINESS EXCHANGE.

Volpe, Vernon L. “General Gordon Granger: The Savior of Chickamauga and the Man Behind ‘Juneteenth.’” Journal of Southern History 81, no. 2 (May 2015): 473–74.

Watriss, Wendy. “Celebrate Freedom: Juneteenth.” Southern Exposure 5, no. 1 (January 1977): 80–87.

White, Paula M. “Happy Juneteenth Day.” Black Enterprise, June 1996.

Wiggins, William H. “Juneteenth: “They Closed the Town up, Man!” American Visions 1, no. 3 (June 1986): 40–45.

Wright, George C. “Juneteenth at Comanche Crossing.” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 87, no. 3 (January 1984): 344–45.

 

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