Emancipation Day: A Celebration of Freedom
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration to commemorate the end of slavery in the US. However, most Americans, including many African Americans, were not familiar with Juneteenth until it received national media attention in 2020, following the tragic death of George Floyd and nationwide social justice movements that prompted greater awareness about Black and African American experiences.
Though the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863, many African Americans were still being held in bondage. It was not until Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865 that the last enslaved African Americans were declared free by General Order No. 3. Read more about the Historical Legacy of Juneteenth from the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Juneteenth celebrations may have begun in Texas but they soon spread to neighboring states and throughout the nation. It became a state holiday in Texas in 1979, and is observed as an official holiday in many other states. Check out the TSHA Texas State Historical Association website for more about the history of Juneteenth in Texas.
Celebrations can range from parades to prayer services, and political rallies to festive barbeque events, complete with red soda water. There are an abundance of recipes online, like Food52’s 68 Recipes from Black Creators to Celebrate Juneteenth.
A C Bilbrew Library has hosted Juneteenth celebrations for 15 years, including storytelling, art activities, and an opportunity to reflect on the history of Juneteenth and celebrate the lives and sacrifices of our ancestors. This year, we’re celebrating virtually—register below.
Want to learn more? Continue exploring on the Juneteenth World Wide Celebration website, which aims to inspire and support the recognition and tradition of Juneteenth. Here you can read, comment, and reflect, as well as find out about celebrations around the nation and the world.
Friday, June 18, 11 am
Smarty Pants Storytime: Juneteenth
Celebrate Juneteenth with stories, songs, and rhymes while learning school readiness skills. For kids ages 2 – 5 with their parent or caregiver. Register here.
Saturday, June 19, 2 pm
Celebrating Juneteenth: Storytelling and Reflections
Join us for a celebration of freedom with storyteller and educator, Binnie Tate Wilkin, who will engage us with Juneteenth history, stories, folktales, and personal reflections. For teens and adults. Register here.