Juneteenth, A Holiday Celebrating Black Freedom

Ellen WernerBooks, Events


Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating Black freedom, is celebrated around the world on June 19th: 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.

Websites such as Hella Juneteenth are collecting information, tools to engage, and actionable strategies for Juneteenth and beyond.

In Chicago this year, there are various digital and in-person events happening to celebrate Juneteenth. On Friday, the Chicago Children’s Choir is hosting a virtual concert of music and spoken word featuring Black CCC alumni called A New Freedom: Black Voices Honoring Juneteenth in a Time of Struggle. On Saturday, Burst into Books will host an in-person 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 from the Chicago Defender, 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.