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Culture Did You Know

Honoring Juneteenth at MCPL

Rachel Rappaport-Assistant Manager; Connie Morella Library

Did you know that our country has a second Independence Day? On June 19, 1865, hundreds of thousands of enslaved African descendants became some of the last to be freed in the United States. Though the Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863, much of the South was still under Confederate control. It was not until two and a half years later that Major General Gordon Granger and his troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce that the enslaved Black people still being held in bondage were now free.  

The news elicited a flood of joyful celebration. The following year, formerly enslaved Texans began celebrating June 19th as a day of Black emancipation – Juneteenth. The holiday has spread throughout the United States becoming an important day for African Americans to gather with family members, pray, celebrate and reflect. This year, however, is a little bit different.  

Many Juneteenth celebrations had to be cancelled or held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While some are still using this day to celebrate and reflect, others have seen it as a day to rally and call attention to the ongoing systemic racism facing people of color in this country.  

As the country continues to reckon with its brutal history of deeply rooted racism and oppression, many are wondering how they can acknowledge Juneteenth. MCPL offers a wealth of resources to expand your historical knowledge, provide insight on social justice and anti-racism and provide access to a wealth of Black voices in the form of books, movies, documentaries, music and more.  As Americans of all backgrounds begin to acknowledge our shared history, we can move closer to just and equitable society for all. 

You’ll need a library card to access the following resources. If you don’t have one yet, click here to get a digital card. 

Oxford African American Studies Center 

Documentaries and movies about African Americans on Kanopy 

Digital resources for Adults, Teens and Children on racial equity and social justice 

Stream African American music from the American Song database 

Sources: 

“The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth” by the National Museum of African American History and Culture 

“What is Juneteenth?” by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.