Staff Picks: Learn More About Juneteenth!

We have a new national holiday! Juneteenth (also known as”Black Independence Day”) has been celebrated by the African-American community on June 19 since 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery. Although the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed two years earlier, many slave owners continued to hold their slaves captive. Juneteenth became a symbolic date representing African American freedom.
Want to learn more? We have several items in our collections about this important moment in American history.
On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed (2021). “The essential, sweeping story of Juneteenth’s integral importance to American history, as told by a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and Texas native.” Gordon-Reed’s book is a New York Times best seller. Click here to request.
Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison (1999). At the time of his death in 1994, Ellison had been working forty years on his second novel, a sweeping piece of historical fiction about a dying, race-baiting senator and a black minister.  John Callahan, Ellison’s literary executor, edited and published the unfinished manuscript with the help of Ellison’s widow. Click here to request a copy. There is also an audiobook version of Juneteenth available through the Cloud Library.
Ralph Ellison: An American Story (2002) Our free streaming video service, Kanopy, has an excellent documentary on the life and work of Ralph Ellison. There is a section of the film in which friends and critics discuss Juneteenth; Toni Morrison reads an excerpt.
Miss Juneteenth (2020). Also available through Kanopy is this critically-acclaimed film directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples. It follows a single mom (a former teen beauty queen) and her 15-year-old daughter as the daughter reluctantly competes in a Miss Juneteenth pageant. A New York Times reviewer wrote: “The movie tackles multitudinous themes in its roughly 100 minutes, from the significance of Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, to the legacy of racism in predatory bank lending practices. But what’s most impressive is the amount of space Peoples’s black female characters inhabit in the narrative.”
All Different Now by Angela Johnson (2014). A beautifully illustrated children’s picture book by Coretta Scott King Award winners Angela Johnson and E.B. Lewis. Click here to request a copy.

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