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Syracuse University Libraries

Juneteenth: Nineteen Readings for SU's Nineteen-Day Observance of Black Liberation from Slavery: Home

This Guide contains daily readings for SU's 2021 commemoration of Juneteenth, observed from June 1-19.

About Juneteenth

On June 19, 1865, news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally arrived in the last reaches of slavery in Texas, nearly two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had, de jure, taken effect.  Slavery would still continue in some slave states that had remained in the Union, and slavery's official end with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment would not occur until December 1865.  However, freed slaves 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, more states have come to have some sort of official recognition of Juneteenth, and the holiday entered the consciousness of the larger American public in the summer of 2020, during the nationwide demonstrations for racial justice and equity, and there is a growing movement to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Flag of Juneteenth

Juneteenth Flag

Image from

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 slaves and their descendants were and are Americans.


Syracuse University Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library

Other relevant SU Libraries Research Guides


June 1: An Introduction to Juneteenth

From: Multicultural America : a multimedia encyclopedia

June 2: A Further Introduction to Juneteenth

From: Encyclopedia of Emancipation and Abolition in the Transatlantic World

June 3: Primary Sources: Frederick Douglass: "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?"

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

June 4: 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.

June 5: A History of Juneteenth Celebrations

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

June 6: 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.

June 7: Black Women and Resistance to Slavery


June 8: The Initial Promise of Reconstruction

June 9: The Origins of Juneteenth

June 10: Juneteenth and Other Emancipation Celebrations over Time

June 11: The End of Reconstruction and Its Aftermath

June 12: The Persistence of Resistance

June 13: Reflections on Emancipation, 100 Years On

June 14: Juneteenth in Fiction

June 15: Juneteenth in Fiction

June 16: The Struggle for Justice and Quality in the 21st Century: Reflections on the Presidency of Barack Obama

June 17: The Struggle for Justice and Equality in the 21st Century: Black Lives Matter

June 18: Juneteenth 2020

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

Juneteenth 2021: Keeping the Spirit of the Holiday

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