I like to think I’m a progressive, someone who is cognizant of social justice issues today, someone who celebrates diversity. But I need to do better. I’m embarrassed to say that in my multiple decades of being alive, I only recently learned about Juneteenth, among a number of other historical events that occurred centered around marginalized populations. I grew up in and have been an unwitting participant in the whitewashing of history.
In case you haven’t learned about Juneteenth yet or need a quick refresher…Juneteenth is celebrated on or around June 19th each year. It commemorates the day in 1865 when enslaved African-Americans in Galveston, Texas were informed that they were free. Now, let’s not forget that Abraham Lincoln issued the emancipation proclamation more than two and a half years earlier and Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox over two months earlier (and there were enslaved people in Delaware until Dec 6, 1865, when the 13th Amendment was ratified).
On June 19, 1865, the people of Galveston heard from Major General Gordon Granger, commander of the U.S. Army’s Department of Texas, “This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.” Even with this announcement, some enslavers suppressed the information until after the harvest.
The hope on that day, the hope of ‘absolute equality,’ has yet to be realized – over 150 years later. While this fight has a long way to go, and while Juneteenth focuses on this fight against injustice, the focus shouldn’t be solely on enslavement. Children need to hear about #blackboyjoy and #blackgirlmagic just as much as the tragedies.
Juneteenth is celebrated in many communities with family gatherings, cookouts, parades, live music, and other community events. It is a time to elevate and appreciate black culture and reflect upon history.
These resources to celebrate Juneteenth will help you to educate yourself and others on Juneteenth in particular, as well as offer great examples of joy and celebration. We hope this will help you find #nomoreexcuses for not including it in your classrooms or at home.
Juneteenth Websites and Podcasts –
- Teaching Juneteenth by Coshandra Dillard (Learning for Justice)
- Resources for Teaching About Race and Social Justice (United Federation of Teachers)
- Teaching Hard History Podcast (Learning for Justice)
- PBS Learning Media: Juneteenth
TPT Resources on Juneteenth –
- Juneteenth eBook and Activities (Naomi O’Brien and LaNesha Tabb)
- Juneteenth Joy Activity Pack (Afrocentric Montessori)
- Activity Pack (Kind Academy)
Children’s Books Specific to Juneteenth –
- Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper (Ages 5-9)
- The Story of Juneteenth: An Interactive History Adventure by Steven Otfinoski (Ages 9-12)
- All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson
- Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford
- Juneteenth by Drew Nelson and Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Black Boy Joy and Black Girl Magic Books –
- I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James
- Hair Love by Matthew Cherry
- Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
- Bedtime Bonnet by Nancy Redd
- If Your Monster Won’t Go To Bed by Denise Vega
- Hike by Pete Oswald
- Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña
- The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes
- Sulwe by Lupita Nyongo
- Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin
- Jabari Jumps & Jabari Tries by Gaia Cornwall
- Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
- Rocket Says Look Up! By Nathan Bryon
- Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment by Parker Curry and Jessica Curry
- Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
- Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora
- Boxitects by Kim Smith
- The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali
- Come On, Rain by Karen Hesse
- Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
- Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes
We have had a reckoning as a country in the past year. We have the opportunity to face our past and change our path or maintain the status quo. Most schools and teachers are ill-equipped to teach hard history. Will you make mistakes? Yes! Be gracious when someone corrects you and move on, doing better now that you know better. How can we allow another student to go through our education system without learning of these critical events from our past? Using this list of Resources to Celebrate Juneteenth is a great place to start.
What is your experience with teaching hard history? Share your experiences and favorite resources with us below!
Written by – Kristin Halverson, NBCT
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