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Juneteenth (June 19) marks the anniversary of the day in 1865, when General Gordon Granger announced the "Emancipation Proclamation" to the slaves in Texas. The slaves in Texas were the very last slaves to be freed after the Civil War because Confederate troops fought for several weeks after General Robert E. Lee's surrender.

There are many variations on the story of why the Texas slaves were not freed until June 19, 1865, some of which have historical documentation. The stories ranged from poor communication technology to the slaveowner's efforts to finish one last harvest.

Juneteenth has traditionally been celebrated in Texas and other bordering states such as Louisiana and Arkansas. However, Black Independence Day (June 19) was celebrated in other areas where a large number of Black Texans lived. Juneteenth was celebrated by Black Americans in much the same style as the Fourth of July.

Juneteenth was given official holiday status in Texas in 1979 which means that banks, government offices and schools are closed. In other parts of the country, Juneteenth is celebrated unofficially.

Selected Titles and References for Adults:

Anyike, James C. African American Holidays: a historical research and resource guide to cultural celebrations, Popular Truth, Inc., 1991, p.53-62.
Explores the historical background of various African American holidays, including Juneteenth.
Clark, Robert L. Afro-American History: sources for research, Howard University Press, 1981, p. 75-76.
Reveals the value of the Freedmens' Bureau papers, particularly in the case of Texas, as a source to comprehend the first years of freedom.
Dunbar, Paul Laurence. "Emancipation" (Poem). Negro History Bulletin 36:42, February 1973. p. 41-42.
The poem encourages Blacks to revere Emancipation Day, January 1. 1863, to be loyal, to "press boldly forward nor waver nor falter...never to sink to that level again."
Ellison, Ralph.Juneteenth: a novel. Random House, 1999.
From the author of "Invisible Man", comes this story of political assassination, and the mysteries of kinship and race, revolving around the lives and memories of a Black Baptist minister, who, through a series of circumstances, rears a child who looks white, and later becomes a “race-baiting” politician.
Rice, Lawrence D. The Negro in Texas, 1874-1900. Louisiana State University Press, 1971, p.5, 151-154.
Discusses the economics situation following the emancipation and the role Freedmen's Bureau eventually played.
Smallwood, James M. Time of Hope, Time of Despair: Black Texans during Reconstruction. Kennikat Press, 1981, p.24-42.
Details the events that led up to Texas Emancipation Day on June 19, 1865 and the events that followed, giving both black and white reaction.
Taylor, Charles A. Juneteenth: a Celebration of Freedom. Praxis Publications, 1995.
Designed to help reader to plan home observance of the celebration. Explains how and why the day is celebrated.
Wiggins, William H., Jr. "Juneteenth" American Visions, 8:3, p.28-31, June 1993.
Traces the evolution of the holiday adopted nationwide by African Americans in search for cultural identity.
Wiggins, William H., Jr. O Freedom! Afro-American Emancipation Celebrations, University of Tennessee Press, 1987.
Wiggins explores the origins, development and significance of festivals celebrating the emancipation from slavery and places them in a cultural context.
Williams, Sherley Ann "Juneteenth: the bicentennial poem." Black Scholar, 8:36, March 1977.
Includes complete text of the poem.

Selected Titles and References for Children:

Branch, Muriel Miller Juneteenth: Freedom Day. Cobblehill, 1998.
The author discusses and provides pictures of her own discoveries and experiences in researching the holiday. She also gives suggestions on how to organize your own Juneteenth celebration, and offers a bibliography of books, periodicals and newspapers. (Grades 4-6)
Leeper, Angela.Juneteenth: A Day to Celebrate Freedom from Slavery. Enslow Pub Inc., 2004.
Covers the origin and history of the holiday known as Juneteenth and describes how it is celebrated today.
Prather, Patricia Smith "Juneteenth: An African American celebration", Cobblestone: The History Magazine for Young People, 18:3, p. 17-21, March 1997.
Traces the development of the celebration from June 19, 1865, to the 1980 declaration of a state holiday in Texas, the first official holiday in America set aside to commemorate African American history and culture. (Grades 3-6)
Weatherford, Carole B. Juneteenth Jamboree, Lee & Row Books, 1995.
Cassandra and her family have moved to her parents' hometown in Texas, but it doesn't feel like home to Cassandra until she experiences Juneteenth, a Texas tradition celebrating the end of slavery. (Kindergarten - Grade 2)
Wesley, Valerie Wilson Freedom's gifts: a Juneteenth story, 1997.
When a girl from New York visits her cousins in Texas, she learns the origin of Juneteenth, a holiday marking the day Texan slaves realized they were free. (Kindergarten - Grade 3)
Winchester, Faith. African-American Holidays, Bridgestone Books, 1996.
Discusses special times of the year for African American celebrations. (Kindergarten - Grade 3)

Selected Web Links:

Juneteenth World Wide Celebration
Provides a history of Juneteenth from its beginnings in 1865 when General Gordon Granger announced the Emancipation Proclamation to the slaves in Texas, through the decline and the current resurgence of Juneteenth celebrations all over the world. A selective list of national organizations are listed plus highlights from Tom Feeling's Middle Passage.
Juneteenth: A Holiday in Celebration of Freedom
An African American History link from, that includes the history of Juneteenth, and links to other educational sources, such as the text of the Emancipation Proclamation, events of the Civil Rights Movement, slavery in Texas, and
Juneteenth U.S.A. Holiday
A site presented by Texas State Representative Al Edwards, who wrote and lobbied for the passage of a bill in 1979, that made June 19th or Juneteenth, an official state holiday in Texas. The site includes the history of Juneteenth, as well as a biographical sketch of Representative Edwards, and information on his Juneteenth non-profit commission.
Juneteenth America, Inc. (JAI)
A non-profit organization that promotes Juneteenth observance in California by sponsoring the California Juneteenth National Freedom Day Observance Senate Bill, and annual events that include Pomona Valley Juneteenth Celebration & Job Fair, and National Juneteenth Convention/Expo in Ontario, California.
National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign
Official site of the campaign to promote recognition of Juneteenth as a national holiday. Includes multiple links to Juneteenth history, information and products.
Juneteenth Celebration: A Local Legacy
A brief history of Juneteenth, presented by the Library of Congress’ America’s Story from America’s Library, a site designed to make history fun, especially for young people.
Juneteenth: The Library of Congress Information Bulletin
A behind-the-scenes look at the compilation and editing of the novel, "Juneteenth", by Ralph Ellison, presented in a lecture at the Library of Congress in 1999, by John F. Callahan, editor of both Ellison novels, "Invisible Man" and "Juneteenth".

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