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Syracuse University Libraries

Juneteenth: Readings for SU's Observance of Black Liberation from Enslavement: Home

This Guide contains readings for SU's commemoration of Juneteenth.

About Juneteenth

On June 19, 1865, news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally arrived in the last reaches of enslavement in Texas, nearly two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had, de jure, taken effect.  Enslavement would still continue in some states that had remained in the Union, and enslavement's official end with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment would not occur until December 1865.  However, formerly enslaved people in Texas and their descendants began annual celebrations of the anniversary of the arrival of the news, which they designated with the name Juneteenth.  Beginning with Texas's establishment of Juneteenth as a state holiday in 1980 and with a handful of states following suit over the next four decades, the holiday entered the consciousness of the larger American public in the summer of 2020, during the nationwide demonstrations for racial justice and equity.  In 2021, Congress passed and President Biden signed into law the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, which officially makes Juneteenth a federal holiday, the first new federal holiday since the creation Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 1986.

Flag of Juneteenth

Juneteenth Flag

Image from https://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/us_june.html

The Juneteenth flag was created by Ben Haith, founder of the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation (NJCF).

The white star in the center of the flag represents the Lone Star State of Texas, where the holiday originated, and African Americans in all 50 states.

The bursting outline around the star is inspired by a nova, a term that astronomers use to mean a new star. On the Juneteenth flag, this represents a new beginning for the African Americans of Galveston and throughout the land.

The curve that extends across the width of the flag represents a new horizon: the opportunities and promise that lay ahead for Black Americans.

The red, white and blue represents the American flag, a reminder that enslaved people and their descendants were and are Americans.

 

Syracuse University Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library

Other relevant SU Libraries Research Guides

Readings

An Introduction to Juneteenth

From: Britannica Academic

A Further Introduction to Juneteenth

From: Encyclopedia of African American history: 1896 to the present

Primary Sources: Frederick Douglass: "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?"

From: Frederick Douglass (1855) My bondage and my freedom

Primary Sources: General Gordon Granger's General Order No. 3

Fortin, J. (2020, Jun 19). "The 1865 Handwritten Order Marking Juneteenth Has Been Found." The New York Times.

A History of Juneteenth Celebrations

Celebrating Freedom: History of the Celebration of Juneteenth. (2001, Jun 20). Los Angeles Sentinel.

Reflections on the History of Juneteenth

African American Studies Professor Explains History of Juneteenth. (2018, Jun 19). US Fed News Service, Including US State News.

Black Women and Resistance to Enslavement

 

The Initial Promise of Reconstruction

The Origins of Juneteenth

Juneteenth and Other Emancipation Celebrations over Time

The End of Reconstruction and Its Aftermath

The Persistence of Resistance

Reflections on Emancipation, 100 Years On

Juneteenth in Fiction

The Struggle for Justice and Equality in the 21st Century: Reflections on the Presidency of Barack Obama

The Struggle for Justice and Equality in the 21st Century: Black Lives Matter

Juneteenth and Racial Justice in the 21st Century

Stewart (2020). "Essay: Celebrating Juneteenth in 2020 Is an Act of Resistance". Texas Monthly.

Keeping the Spirit of the Holiday

Jackson (2020). "Black Joy—Not Corporate Acknowledgment—Is the Heart of Juneteenth". The Atlantic.