Treasure on the Shelves: What can I learn about Juneteenth?

Published 3:59 pm Friday, June 9, 2023

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Treasures on the ShelvesAs we move into the summer holiday season, there is a new holiday that’s been added to our celebration calendars. Juneteenth, which is observed on June 19, was declared a federal holiday in 2021.

President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. However, the origin of Juneteenth can be traced to Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. On that day Major General Gordon Granger delivered an announcement declaring enslaved people were now free in the state of Texas. The combination of the month and date create the name of the holiday that has been called America’s Second Independence Day.

“Days of Jubilee” by Patricia C. and Frederick L. McKissack explores the celebrations of freedom, or jubilees, which occurred across different states in the aftermath of the Emancipation Proclamation. Narratives compiled from oral histories, letters and diaries make up the stories of hope and independence in this book, which was given the Coretta Scott King Honor Book designation.

Kim Taylor’s “A Flag for Juneteenth” portrays an African community in Texas on the day their freedom is announced. To commemorate this historic event, they create a freedom flag consisting of quilting squares depicting their heritage. The author is a master quilter whose designs are featured throughout the book.

“Coming Together: Celebrations for African-American Families” by Harriet Cole and John Pinderhughes is filled with ideas for gatherings of all kinds. Juneteenth celebrations often include lots of food for picnics and cookouts and this book has plenty of recipes for all kinds of menus as well as helpful suggestions on preserving memories of gatherings with pictures, videos and recordings.

If you are interested in reading more about emancipation, “The Zealot and the Emancipator” by H.W. Brands examines the lives of Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist John Brown. Each of these men had fierce ideals about slavery and freedom and both felt compelled to act on these in very different ways. Despite never having met, each man had enormous impact on one another’s lives and this book explores the many facets of emancipation that came into play during the Civil War years.

Happy reading!

Holly Howze is the branch manager for the Ripberger Public Library located in Kenbridge. She can be reached at