Happy Juneteenth, Book Lovers!
For anyone who may need a quick refresher, Juneteenth is a holiday that commemorates African American’s independence from slavery. You see, although President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, by the spring of 1865 most slaves in Texas were still not free. Since Texas was not a battleground during the Civil War, slaves there were not affected by the Emancipation Proclamation unless they escaped. This situation required the influence of the Union Army to help implement the intent of the order. Finally, on June 19, 1865 Major General Gordon Granger read aloud General Order No. 3 which announced the freedom of enslaved people. We now celebrate Juneteenth to honor the long, arduous journey it took for slaves to get their freedom (and a reminder to continue to fight for the human and civil rights we still lack).
It is important that children also learn about this holiday. Here are two great Juneteenth reads to share with the young people in your life.
Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper
(For readers 5-9 years old)
Mazie is used to adults telling her “no” and, much like her peers, she does not like it! Her dad tells her about her third-great grandfather Mose who was a slave. He faced even greater challenges and limitations to his rights. Everything that he endured helped set the stage for the joyous occasion that is Juneteenth.
Juneteenth (On My Own Holidays) by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson & Drew Nelson ; Illustrated by Mark Schroder
(For readers 7-10 years old)
June 19, 1865 started off as a regular day. African American slaves toiled for the White people who own them. It was the way of the time. All of that changed when they received a message that slavery had ended! Now people throughout the United States treat Juneteenth as a day to remember the plight of our ancestors and celebrate their freedom.