Juneteenth (a combination of "June" and "nineteenth") celebrations mark the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas finally learned that the Emancipation Proclamation had declared them free more than two years earlier. Annual celebrations of the occasion—parades, fireworks, cookouts, community gatherings, dances—spread beyond Texas as African Americans migrated across the country and traditions were passed on from family to family and community to community.
The books below, both fiction and nonfiction and for a span of age groups, delve into the Juneteenth holiday directly or take place during the joyous, yet tumultuous time period as slavery officially ended and freed Black people faced new forms of economic, legal, and societal barriers rooted in racism.
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Summaries provided via NYPL’s catalog, which draws from multiple sources. Click through to each book’s title for more.