Juneteenth and The Undefeated
Juneteenth (short for June nineteenth) is a day of remembrance and resilience. It marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. The troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that should have immediately ensured the release of all humans held as property. Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday.
The official date, June 19, 1865, became known as Freedom/Independence Day and later, Juneteenth. Just over one hundred years later, the Poor Peoples March, a response to Dr. King’s Poor People’s campaign took place on June 19, 1968. Its spirit returned with attendees to their respective communities throughout the United States and slowly began to grow.
In 1979, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday. Since then, 47 other states and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as a state holiday or holiday observance, including Rhode Island. Although Juneteenth is not an official federal holiday, June 19 is a day of celebration, education, and connection throughout the country.
This Juneteenth, the book The Undefeated, by Alexander Kwame will be featured as a story walk in Wilcox Park. Members of ARC (The Antiracism Coalition) will make themselves available amongst the pages to answer any questions you or your children might have. The Undefeated is a poem honoring the endurance of and accomplishments by African Americans. The phenomenal illustrations by Kadir Nelsen have earned this book the 2020 Caldecott Medal and features black activists, musicians, and athletes as well as sorrowful tributes to victims of hate and greed.
For those interested in learning more about Juneteenth and the people featured in the book please refer to the book list below:
Juneteenth Celebrated at Westerly Library & Wilcox Park
All Different Now: Juneteenth, The First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson
Juneteenth: A Novel by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Come Juneteenth by Ann Rinaldi
Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper
On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed
Juneteenth by Emily Dolbear
Juneteenth by Lisa A. Crayton
Let's Celebrate Emancipation Day & Juneteenth by Barbara deRubertis
The History of Our Holidays: The History of Juneteenth by Maximillian Smith
Juneteenth: A Day to Celebrate Freedom from Slavery by Angela Leeper
Freedom's Gift: A Juneteenth Story by Valerie Wesley
Juneteenth: Jubilee for Freedom by June Preszler
Juneteenth by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Black is Rainbow Color by Angela Joy