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Day 1: Historical Significance of Juneteenth

June 19th, the day widely referred to as Juneteenth, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, or Second Independence Day, is a day for Americans to celebrate and commemorate the freedom of enslaved African Americans.  The National Museum of African American History and Culture cites Juneteenth as “marking our country’s second Independence Day,” and that “the historical legacy of Juneteenth shows the value of never giving up hope in uncertain times.” An explanation from Juneteenth World Wide Celebration explains that “Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom and achievement while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures.”

On January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation announced “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious areas “are, and henceforward shall be free.” However, in regions that were still under Confederate control, the Emancipation Proclamation was not enacted and resulted in enslaved people not being freed until much later. The National Museum of African American History and Culture explains that in “the westernmost Confederate state of Texas…Freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree,” and “this day came to be known as “Juneteenth,” by the newly freed people in Texas.”

Juneteenth World Wide Celebration describes that while today’s Juneteenth “takes on a more national, symbolic and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all of the roots tie back to this fertile soil from which a national day of pride is growing.”

Today's Challenge


  1. Read this article from NPR to learn what Juneteenth represents and how people have celebrated it.


  1. Read this article from BlackPast, an organization dedicated to “providing reliable information on the history of Black people across the globe,” to learn about the growth of Juneteenth and its historical significance


  1. Watch this TED-Ed video to learn the history of Juneteenth.
  2. Watch this video from History explaining Juneteenth and what you need to know.


Press Play on History: Juneteenth Connect songs to themes of the historical experience of African Americans and Juneteenth and create a playlist through this Learning Lab activity.


On NPR: Poet Amanda Gorman celebrates the gift of Blackness for Juneteenth

Reflection Questions

  1. Now that you know some of the history of Juneteenth, what does Juneteenth mean to you personally?


  1. Take some time to think about Juneteenth today, what are some aspects of celebrating Juneteenth you think others should understand?

Learn More

  1. Watch this lecture on the history of Juneteenth from historian Dr. Shennette Garrett-Scott


  1.  Watch this YouTube video from The Root, “This Is Why Juneteenth Is Important for America”—-


  1. Watch this video from Columbia News explaining “What is Juneteenth?”

These articles were curated by a local committee to be used as a list of resources pertinent to DEI topics. The 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge Committee would like to thank and give attribution to those who created the content above, which reflects their individual perspectives. We do not support nor endorse any advertisements associated with the above content.

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