Celebrate Juneteenth: Resources for Educators
Juneteenth National Independence Day, also known as Freedom Day, Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day, and Black Independence Day, is celebrated every year on June 19 and commemorates the historic date in 1865 when the news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached Galveston, Texas—two and a half years after it was signed by Abraham Lincoln—and the people who were enslaved there learned that they were at last free.
In June 2021, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, making June 19 an officially recognized federal holiday.
Not only is Juneteenth a day to celebrate the culture, achievements, history, influence, and contributions of Black people throughout our nation’s existence, but also it is a time to support and uplift the voices, stories, and experiences of Black Americans and to continue to push for equality in our country.
To help you find ways to teach students about Juneteenth, we’ve put together a round up of resources to get started. Check out these resources for educators, families, and students to learn more about the significance of Juneteenth and the different ways communities celebrate and take action.
Dive Deeper into the History of Juneteenth
Despite being the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the U.S., not everyone is as familiar with the history and significance of Juneteenth as they are with other holidays. Any day of the year is a perfect day to dive in and learn more about Black history, but this Juneteenth, take an extra moment to learn more about the history behind June 19, 1865.
You should also check out the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture’s (NMAAHC) award-winning Juneteenth webpage, Senses of Freedom: The Taste, Sound, and Experience of an African American Celebration. Here, you can find a curated reading list, resources for young people, and a social media kit for download. They also have Juneteenth events running all month.
Read and Learn About Juneteenth from Books for All Ages
What better way to celebrate and reflect on the stories of Juneteenth than with books? Take a look at USA Today’s list of 25 books for kids and adults to celebrate Juneteenth and reflect on the history and impact of slavery. Browse through a few titles, choose a couple that spark your interest, and even go the extra mile by purchasing from a Black-owned bookstore! You can also find many recordings and read-alouds on YouTube or ask your local library about downloading audiobooks.
The New York Public Library has also compiled a list of “Juneteenth Reads for All Ages” with over 20 fiction and nonfiction books (and one DVD) relating to the Juneteenth celebration.
Celebrate Juneteenth with Students
Juneteenth focuses on education and self-improvement, but it’s also a celebration of freedom. In this blog post from WeAreTeachers, you’ll find another great list of read-alouds, as well as informative videos and teaching resources.
Written by Danielle Moss Lee, this Edutopia article breaks down four ideas to not only celebrate Juneteenth with your students but also spark important conversations about Black American history, discussions on how to be antiracist, and dialogues on the importance of actively working toward equality for all.
Interested in learning more about how to talk about Juneteenth with students? Check out this blog post on teaching Juneteenth from Learning for Justice, and don’t forget to browse your local community bulletins and event centers for virtual or in-person celebrations and gatherings this year!
This post was originally published June 2020 and has been updated.