Although people are becoming increasingly aware of the annual Juneteenth holiday, there is still a good portion of the populace who are undoubtedly unfamiliar with the observation of Black Liberation Day.
The current racial reckoning enveloping the U.S. has pushed Juneteenth, which recognizes the official end of slavery in the United States, to unimaginable levels of relevance. That was especially true this week as President Joe Biden was set to sign legislation to make Juneteenth an official national holiday after both chambers of Congress each passed bills nearly unanimously.
And still, despite the momentum Juneteenth has enjoyed in recent years, culminating this week, most Americans know little to nothing about the holiday.
A new poll has hammered home that point and then some, underscoring the context in which Juneteenth has become a national holiday. Politicians prioritized making it a national holiday while the voters who put them in office aren’t exactly sure what it’s all about in the first place, the poll found.
The Gallup poll got really granular results, finding that just 28 percent of adults in the U.S. know “nothing at all” about Juneteenth. Thirty-four percent know “a little bit,” 25% know “some” and just 12% know “a lot.”
Perhaps even more notable is how the poll found that a relatively low number of Black adults (37%) know “a lot” about Juneteenth. Thirty-two percent of Black adults know “some,” 27% know “a little bit” and 4% know “nothing at all.” Black adults represented the biggest share of demographics polled who knew the most about Juneteenth.
Now that Juneteenth is actually a national holiday, something has got to give when it comes to Americans informing themselves about the annual commemoration.
And what better way to learn about something than to read about it?
Luckily for everybody, there is no shortage of books that have been written about Juneteenth, both recently and decades ago, and intended for a wide range of audiences, including children.
And with the current Republican-led wave of laws forbidding critical race theory to be taught in schools, depending on students to learn about Juneteenth from their teachers is an option that has been all but eliminated, making the availability of books written about Juneteenth that much more valuable — and necessary.
Are you among those who want to learn more about Juneteenth? If so, chances are that you are far from alone. Scroll down and keep reading to find 10 books about Juneteenth to learn more about the new national holiday also known as Black Liberation Day.
1. “Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom,” by Charles A. TaylorSource:Dr. Charles A. Taylor
“Although Dr. Taylor’s book forces us to examine slavery, a painful period in American history, the celebration at the heart of this holiday is uplifting. Furthermore, this examination is necessary because many contemporary social problems have their roots in the slave experience. Certainly, Hurricane Katrina is a vivid reminder of this fact. It is our hope that families will read the book together and be inspired to celebrate the ongoing struggle for freedom of African Americans in the United States. “
2. “On Juneteenth,” by Annette Gordon-Reed
As Gordon-Reed writes, “It is staggering that there is no date commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.”
The book went on sale in May before Biden made Juneteenth a national holiday. It can be bought at bookstores or online by clicking here.
3. “All Different Now,” by Angela JohnsonSource:Simon & Schuster
“Through the eyes of one little girl, All Different Now tells the story of the first Juneteenth, the day freedom finally came to the last of the slaves in the South. Since then, the observance of June 19 as African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond. This stunning picture book includes notes from the author and illustrator, a timeline of important dates, and a glossary of relevant terms.
“Told in Angela Johnson’s signature melodic style and brought to life by E.B. Lewis’s striking paintings, All Different Now is a joyous portrait of the dawn breaking on the darkest time in our nation’s history.”
4. Let’s Celebrate Emancipation Day & Juneteenth, book by BARBARA DERUBERTISSource:Amazon.com
From Amazon’s review:
“In the 1800s, abolitionists like Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Sojourner Truth fought for freedom from slavery for all African Americans. They fought with speeches, songs, newspapers, and even with daring rescue missions! Every year on both Emancipation Day and Juneteenth we honor and continue their fight for freedom and equality.
“Holidays & Heroes brings to life the people whose holidays we celebrate throughout the year. Enriched with colorful historical images, books in this series will engage children in the stories behind our holidays and the people they honor.”
5. “The Brightest Day: A Juneteenth Historical Romance Anthology,” by Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart, Piper HuguleySource:Barnes & Noble
“The Brightest Day: A Juneteenth Historical Romance Anthology, with a foreword by the inimitable Beverly Jenkins, brings you four novellas highlighting love, light, and hope set over a period of history that’s often left in the shadows.”
6. “Traditional African American Arts and Activities,” by Sonya Kimble-EllisSource:Amazon.com
“African Americans throughout our country’s history have developed a rich heritage of arts and activities. Now you can discover and enjoy many of these traditions, from celebrating Juneteenth to making African masks to creating unique quilts, right in your own home. TRADITIONAL AFRICAN AMERICAN ARTS AND ACTIVITIES shows you how to do traditional tie-dyeing, how to make and play your own talking drum, and how to join with friends to create your own folktale. You’ll learn all about the history and development of jazz, blues, and rap music, and you’ll find out how to play fun games like mancala, muraburaba, chigoro danda, and more.
“With fun projects and easy-to-follow directions, this captivating learn-and-do guide explores the treasured stories and customs of the earliest African Americans and of their descendants today.”
7. “Juneteenth: A Children’s Story,” by Opal LeeSource:Amazon.com
“An engaging way to introduce the history of slavery and freedom to children in words they can understand. Ms. Opal highlights the celebration of Juneteenth and the importance of commemorating this milestone all across America.”
8. “Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery,” by Deborah WillisSource:Amazon.com
“Envisioning Emancipation illustrates what freedom looked like for black Americans in the Civil War era. From photos of the enslaved on plantations and African American soldiers and camp workers in the Union Army to Juneteenth celebrations, slave reunions, and portraits of black families and workers in the American South, the images in this book challenge perceptions of slavery. They show not only what the subjects emphasized about themselves but also the ways Americans of all colors and genders opposed slavery and marked its end.”
9. “Juneteenth: Freedom Day,” by Muriel Miller BranchSource:Abe Books
From Abe Books webite:
Juneteenth: Freedom Day “Provides the story of how this holiday, marking the Emancipation Proclamation, spontaneously began on June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, and grew from there into a nationwide celebration of freedom among African Americans.”
10. “Freedom’s Gifts: A Juneteenth Story,” by Valerie WesleySource:Abe Books
“With the help of their elderly Aunt Marshall, June and her cousin Lillie celebrate Juneteenth, the day Texas slaves found out they had been freed, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.”