JUNETEENTH READING LIST
What is Juneteenth
Juneteenth is an American holiday that commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. It commemorates the June 19, 1865 announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas. It is also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day and Emancipation Day.
In addition to celebrating Juneteenth as an annual holiday, we should also use it as an opportunity to educate ourselves about our history and remember those who suffered greatly so that we may live in a freer state today. Sure, we still strive for more, but it is important to acknowledge that we've come a long way.
Why Celebrate Juneteenth?
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. The holiday, which takes place on June 19 each year, honors African Americans who were freed from slavery after the end of the Civil War and emancipation proclamation in 1863. Juneteenth was first widely celebrated during Reconstruction (1865–1877) as a joyous homecoming for those formerly enslaved and their descendants.
Today, Juneteenth is a day of celebration and reflection for people across America—including those who live free today because of their ancestors' courage more than 150 years ago. It's also an opportunity to celebrate African-American culture and heritage through parades, music festivals, picnics with family and friends—and reading!
Afriware Books and Mahogany Gallery had an excellent and historic event moments after President Biden pronounced that Juneteenth was a National Holiday in 2021.
How did Juneteenth start?
You may have heard of Juneteenth, but what is it? The holiday originated in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived at the port of Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War had ended and that enslaved people were now free.
Juneteenth was celebrated by African American communities across the country until emancipation became official law throughout the U.S., which happened on January 1st, 1863 (as confederate soldiers tried to stop the word from getting out). Since then it has evolved into an annual celebration recognizing African Americans’ freedom from slavery and their contributions to American society.
Ways to Celebrate juneteenth
These books will help you gain more insight into Juneteenth!
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Written by Himself by Olaudah Equiano
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Written by Himself was first published in 1789 and has since been republished many times. It is a true account of an enslaved man and how he escaped from slavery to become a free man. The author was born in Africa and sold into slavery at the age of 11. He was transported to Barbados where he worked on a plantation for almost 10 years before being sold to another owner who took him to Virginia where he was purchased by a Quaker merchant named Robert King. The book tells us about his life as a sailor and how he gained his freedom after saving his master's ship from pirates off of Africa's coast. It also includes an account of what happened when they returned home after completing their voyage together.
Gustavus Vassa was born in 1745 on an island off the coast of West Africa called Benin City which today is known as Nigeria. This is an important work as it gives a perspective from a primary resource on what percentage of the enslaved were sold by other Africans compared to being tricked and kidnapped by foreigners. Read more in our post called, "Books on Africans Selling Africans into Slavery."
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
This book is a non-fiction story about the Great Migration, which saw over 6 million African Americans move from the south to the north between 1916 and 1970. It was published in 2010 by Isabel Wilkerson and has been critically acclaimed for its comprehensive coverage of this important historical event.
The Underground Railroad by Glennette Tiley Turner
This is the first book to examine the Illinois chapters of the Underground Railroad from a historical perspective. It's also the first book to explore the impact of the Underground Railroad on Chicago, a city that's often overlooked when it comes to civil rights history.
Glennette Turner's work on this project began when she was just 10 years old and living in Chicago. She's always been interested in history and knew there were stories that people needed to hear—stories about how people risked everything to help others escape slavery.
As part of her research, Glennette interviewed more than 100 individuals who had personal connections with the Underground Railroad or who had family members who were involved. She also spent time at historical sites like The National Museum of African American History and Culture, where she saw artifacts related to slavery and other forms of oppression.
The Underground Railroad in Illinois is filled with these stories—both real and imagined—which show us that even though slavery ended 150 years ago, we are still fighting for freedom today!
Complete Juneteenth Reading List
Please visit our previous blog post for a full list of books on Juneteenth.
Juneteenth Childrens Books
"The Juneteenth Story: Celebrating the End of Slavery in the United States" Agostini, Alliah L
Juneteenth is an anniversary that celebrates the day when African Americans were freed from slavery in Texas. It's a time to reflect on our history and what it means to be free. In "The Juneteenth Story: Celebrating the End of Slavery in the United States," author Alliah L. Agostini explores how this momentous occasion has shaped our country through stories about its history, culture, and people. She also highlights some important figures who have helped shape this event throughout its existence.
Juneteenth: The Story Behind the Celebration by Cotham, Edward T
In this book, author Edward T Cotham tells us how Juneteenth began and why it has become such an important part of our nation's history. The book begins with an explanation on how Emancipation Day celebrations were first celebrated in Texas after hearing about President Lincoln's Proclamation freeing slaves in Southern states which had seceded from Union control during America's Civil War.
Cotham then goes on to discuss how Juneteenth became known as "Freedom Day" before becoming what we now know today: Freedom Summer!
Want to Know More?
Please note: all books mentioned in this post can be purchased at afriwarebooks.com. Please visit our previous post, "Books on Juneteenth" for a more complete list of books and gifts. If you do not find it on our site, please inquire with an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
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