This past weekend, the country recognized Juneteenth, the anniversary of the day that enslaved people in Texas were read the Emancipation Proclamation, thus freeing the last people from slavery 2 years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the original document. As Americans celebrated Juneteenth this year amid protests against racism and police brutality, the story of the holiday grows.
Governor Kate Brown has issued a Juneteenth Proclamation to recognize the holiday, which can be viewed here:
Those who would like to read more about Juneteenth and slavery in the United States can select from several works for all ages:
Books About Juneteenth for Children
- All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson
This book follows the story of the first Juneteenth, as seen through the eyes of a young girl experiencing the day in Texas.
- Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper
Young Mazie is tired of hearing “no” from her parents. As she sits with her father and learns more about Juneteenth, she gains perspective about what freedom means, and why it is so important.
- Juneteenth by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and Drew Nelson
This early reader paints a picture of what life was like in Texas on that fateful June day in 1865.
- Freedom's Gifts: A Juneteenth Story by Valerie Wesley
Set in 1943, this book tells the story of two cousins. June is a Texan who loves to celebrate Juneteenth every year, but her cousin Lillie from New York City makes fun of the holiday. It isn’t until the girls talk with Aunt Marshall, a former slave, that Lillie begins to understand why freedom is so important.
- Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford
Cassandra has moved with her parents back to their home state of Texas. She’s never heard of Juneteenth before, but as she experiences this celebration of freedom for the first time, she starts to understand why it’s so special.
Books About Juneteenth for Teens
- Addy's Cookbook: A Peek at Dining in the Past with Meals You Can Cook Today by Jodi Evert
This isn't specifically a Juneteenth book, but all the recipes are of the 1860s, a time when Juneteenth parties would have started happening.
- Black Angels by Linda Beatrice Brown
Set toward the end of the Civil War, three orphans band together.
- Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom by Charles A. Taylor
Filled with archival documents, photographs, and illustrations, Taylor describes the joys of Juneteenth and its history. For ages 10 and up.
Books About Juneteenth for Adults
- Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison
Published posthumously in 1999, Ellison lost much of the original manuscript in a fire. The novel is the story of how a boy is able to stray far enough from his history to become the man he is.
- The Brightest Day: A Juneteenth Historical Romance Anthology by Kianna Alexander, Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart, and Piper Huguley
Each story follows a woman in a different time and how Juneteenth effects them all.
- Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery by Deborah Willis
A stunning book of historical records and haunting photography, Willis' book shows what the Emancipation Proclamation looked like on the bodies of the newly freed slaves.