Do you know about Juneteenth?
Here are some ways you can learn about the important significance of Juneteenth and share the history with children!
When is it?
Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19th every year.
What does it celebrate?
According to this website,
“Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
“Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.
Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863.
The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.
“Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years.
Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom.
Another is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations.
And still another is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation.
All of which or none of these versions could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln’s authority over the rebellious states was in question. Whatever the reasons, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.”
Juneteenth represents true “liberty for all.” 47 states and the District of Columbia now recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or observance, and there is a movement to make it a federal holiday.
What are some ways to teach children about Juneteenth?
I love teaching almost anything through quality children’s literature and I found some great books about Juneteenth. Unfortunately, some of them are super expensive because they are no longer in print (which probably tells you something about how the holiday has been overlooked or not valued). I’m including the Amazon links for these books so you can read more about them, but I would suggest checking your local library for copies.
*Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford
*The Story of Juneteenth: An Interactive History Adventure by Steven Otfinoski
*Freedom’s Gifts – A Juneteenth Story by Valerie Wesley
*Juneteenth by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
*Tiny’s Emancipation by Linda Baten Johnson
*Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper
*All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson
To build more background knowledge, another good teaching tool is video. Here are two links to helpful videos:
*History of Juneteenth
*An episode of the TV show Black-ish which discusses Juneteenth
At a time when many white folks like me are trying to listen and learn, educating yourself about the importance of Juneteenth is just one small step. I’m hoping that there will soon be even more quality (and affordable) resources about this important event.
If you find other great resources, please share!
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