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The Emancipation Proclamation — that all enslaved people in Confederate states be freed — was signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, but it took two and a half years for the news of freedom to reach everywhere. Juneteenth (June 19th) commemorates the day that federal troops finally arrived in Galveston, Texas, in 1865 to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation and free the enslaved people there. Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021, and families across the country celebrate “Freedom Day” with community gatherings, parades, freedom walks, festivals — and sharing books together. To learn more:
All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom
This story, written in free-verse poetry, begins with one Texas family learning about their freedom, leaving the sweltering cotton fields, and going to celebrate with a whole community on a cool beach at night. Beautiful watercolor illustrations and extra historical information at the end.
Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem
Evocative free verse by poet and activist Sojourner Kincaid Rolle traces the solemnity and celebration of Juneteenth from its 1865 origins in Galveston, Texas to contemporary observances all over the United States. This is an ode to the strength of Black Americans and a call to remember and honor a holiday whose importance reverberates far beyond the borders of Texas.
Juneteenth for Mazie
Mazie is ready to celebrate liberty. She is ready to celebrate freedom. She is ready to celebrate a great day in American history. The day her ancestors were no longer slaves. Mazie remembers the struggles and the triumph, as she gets ready to celebrate Juneteenth.
Cassie has moved from the big city back to her family’s Texas hometown. Joining her parents in a community celebration of Juneteenth, Cassie learns about the day when slaves in Texas were freed some two years after the Emancipation Proclamation and wonders why the news took so long to reach them. She is introduced to Juneteenth traditions and while making red velvet cake and witnessing the joy of the locals downtown, learning Juneteenth’s history helps her to realize that she is, indeed, home.
Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth
Black activist Opal Lee had a vision of Juneteenth as a holiday for everyone. This true story celebrates Black joy and inspires children to see their dreams blossom. Growing up in Texas, Opal knew the history of Juneteenth, but she soon discovered that many Americans had never heard of the holiday. Join Opal on her historic journey to recognize and celebrate “freedom for all.”
The History of Juneteenth: A History Book for New Readers
On June 19, 1865, a Union soldier traveled to Texas to tell the enslaved people who lived there that they were free — that slavery was now illegal in every state. The people danced and sang in celebration of their freedom. Today, we pay tribute to this historical day with a special holiday on June 19 called Juneteenth. This colorfully illustrated story takes kids on an exciting journey through all the events that led up to the first Juneteenth, the day itself, and the impact it had on the future of the U.S.
The Juneteenth Story: Celebrating the End of Slavery in the United States
Juneteenth’s story started long before it was celebrated. The history of this now widely recognized celebration is presented in measured, accessible, and informative text and colorful illustrations. An afterword by the author reveals her connection to Junteenth.
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