Juneteenth – A Celebration and Remembrance

Around the country, school libraries are going quiet just as public libraries are beginning to reopen, swinging wide their doors just in time to celebrate Juneteenth. Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, marks the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Texas were first informed of their freedom as a result of Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. Gradually becoming a national holiday, Juneteenth offers librarians the chance to highlight a wide variety of resources. Here, we collect a few:

As this New York Times article points out, food plays a huge role in Juneteenth celebrations. Cookbooks and food memoirs can be an excellent way to mark the occasion and to draw teens into titles they might not turn to on their own. Along the way, they maybe even spark a new hobby or interest! First, a few instant classics from the legendary Edna Lewis and renowned cook and food historian Toni Tipton Martin:

If you don’t already have the YA adaptation of Kwame Onwuachi’s Notes from a Young Black Chef, get it now! This memoir would be great for foodies or social justice warriors as it faces the realities of racism in fine dining.

For those more interested in the history behind and around Juneteenth, Annette Gordon-Reed’s slim book On Juneteenth offers an accessible option that, while published for adults, could have easy appeal to teens.

And though it tackles the history and legacy of slavery overall, Clint Smith’s infinitely readable How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America pays ample attention to Juneteenth.

Finally, one of the new editions of Ralph Ellison’s posthumously published Juneteenth should be in every collection. Though not about the celebration, per se, Ellison offers a fascinating depiction of yet another form of Juneteenth commemoration: the sermon. In his telling of this Juneteenth, the traditional call and response of worship and preaching in the Black church is captured, reminding us of yet another way to mark the occasion.