Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating Black freedom

Ellen WernerBooks, Events


Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating Black freedom, is celebrated around the world on June 16th: the day in 1865 (two years after the emancipation proclamation was signed) when slaves in Galveston, Texas got word that they were free. Black Texans took the tradition of celebrating Juneteenth with them as they moved around the United States and the world.

Juneteenth has historically been a one-day celebration revolving largely around church communities but has grown into a more secular week-long celebration: not just of freedom, but also of Black achievement.

In Chicago this year, there are events throughout the week, including the 2019 Westside Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday, which will feature live music, vendors, kids’ activities, and more. Organizers write that Juneteenth “signifies freedom, empowerment, and resilience for Black people all across this country” and note that Black-owned businesses and artists will be highlighted. Also on Saturday, Burst into Books will host a Juneteenth Family Celebration. Burst Into Books is a literacy nonprofit founded by and organized by Black women that aims to “help children develop a love for literature through reading circles, book clubs, writing workshops, online workshops, educational services and family centered events.”

To learn more about Juneteenth, attend a local event this week, read more on WTTW, or share one of these picture books with a child in your life:

Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson

Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford

For more books celebrating Black heroes, check out our lists for kids and adults.