This post is all about Juneteenth books.
On June 19, 1865, the Union Army arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and that all slaves were now free. The end of the civil war or shall I say, this event, marked the end of slavery in America and has since been celebrated as Juneteenth.
I have compiled a reading list of Juneteenth books that celebrate African American culture and history in honor of this day. These Juneteenth books are perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the roots of Juneteenth, the history of slavery or the African American experience in America and how they fought for their civil rights.
Whether you are a longtime reader or just getting started, there is something on this list for everyone.
Why Is It Called Juneteenth?
The term “Juneteenth” is a combination of the words “June” and “nineteenth,” referring to the date on which slavery was finally abolished in the United States (June 19th). Today, the Juneteenth celebration is viewed as a day of freedom and emancipation. In some states, it is even recognized as an official holiday. For many African Americans, it is a time to reflect on their history and culture and a time to celebrate their progress and achievements.
What Should I Read For Juneteenth?
There are plenty of stories about Juneteenth out there and this list of book recommendations is a great starting point. I’ve added books about emancipation celebrations and black Americans current struggles today. I hope you find my list of Juneteenth books one of the best resources to learn about Juneteenth.
Why is Juneteenth important? These reads will answer that for you. Here are some notable Juneteenth books about African American culture and history to help you celebrate the holiday:
1. Juneteenth for Mazie
This picture book by Floyd Cooper tells the story of a young girl named Mazie who learns about Juneteenth from her grandfather. He tells the story of her Great Great Great Grandpa, and the day he heard the Emancipation Proclamation read in Galveston, Texas in 1865. He tells her that “every year on June 19th, they celebrated and remembered.” She then sets out to share what she has learned with her friends. I love all the illustrations making it a great book for young readers who are just learning about Juneteenth and its significance.
2. On Juneteenth
Annette Gordon-Reeds offers her readers a historical understanding of the country’s journey to Juneteenth, emphasizing its origins in Texas and the tremendous challenges experienced by African-Americans in the century. As a native of Texas and having ancestral ties to the enslaved people brought to Texas in the early 1820s, Gordon-Reeds narrates the story of her home state. She cites a slave-and race-based economy that triggered the Mexican-American War and Civil War and defined Texas’ independence. The book is a great read that provides a critical account and constant reminder that the fight for equality still exists even as the country recognizes June 19th as a national holiday.
3. Between The World and Me
This is a haunting and powerful memoir by Ta-Nehisi Coates that exposes the systemic racism that has shaped America. Coates unflinchingly describes his own experience growing up Black in America and how the fear of violence has always been a part of his life. This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the realities of racism in America.
4. Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free
This is a children’s book that tells the story of Opal Lee, a 106-year-old woman who is on a mission to make Juneteenth a national holiday. The book chronicles Opal’s lifelong commitment to justice and her efforts to ensure that everyone understands the importance of freedom.
5. Four Hundred Souls
Four Hundred Souls illustrates the multiple formerly disregarded facets of segregation, slavery, resilience, and survival of African Americans in American history. The authors, Kendi and Blain, utilize a community approach to narrate the triumphs and traumas of Black people across four centuries, beginning from the year 1619. They address past events of Black history, linking them to the current policies and politics on African American issues. The book is an essential read for individuals seeking to learn more about the struggles and achievements of Black people over the past four centuries.
6. Juneteenth A Novel
This magnificent piece is Ralph Ellison’s forty-year work in progress, edited by John Callahan after his death. Ellison narrates a powerful tale of a prodigal son in the 20th century, illustrating the identity of a black man beyond the long-suffering under discrimination and slavery. The rite of Juneteenth is to celebrate the elimination of slavery as a rebirth myth in conjunction with ancient summer rites, including Christ’s resurrection and belief in the afterlife. The narrative portrays the black man as strong, conscious, and educated who strives to achieve a better America, where racism is not forgotten but absolved. The book is a powerful read that draws the country closer to Ellison’s ambition. One of my favorite Junteenth books!
7. The Warmth of Other Suns
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning book that tells the story of the Great Migration when millions of African Americans left the South in search of a better life. Through the stories of three people who made the journey, Wilkerson brings to life the challenges and triumphs of this period. This book is a powerful reminder of the strength and resilience of the human spirit and an essential read for anyone wanting to learn more about the history behind Juneteenth.
8. I’m Still Here
Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown is an excellent book to add to your reading list this Juneteenth. In it, the author shares her own experiences as a Black woman living in America and examines the systems of racism and racial inequities that have been ingrained in our society. She also offers practical advice on how we can work to dismantle these systems and build a more just and equitable world. This is an important book that provides insights into the Black experience in America, and it is sure to provoke thought and discussion.
9. Hood Feminism
In this book, feminist activist Mikki Kendall sheds light on the unique experiences of black women and offers a vision for more inclusive feminism. Through personal narratives and incisive analysis, Kendall shows how interlocking systems of racism, sexism, and classism have conspired to keep black women from achieving economic, social, and political parity with white women. She also offers a blueprint for building more intersectional feminism that includes all women, regardless of race or socioeconomic status.
10. The Diversity Gap
Bethaney Wilkinson blends first-hand experiences with current-world research to provide leaders with a guide on how to destroy the barriers hindering organizational diversity. The Diversity Gap creates an iterative structure that integrates a diverse culture fostering equity and inclusion, thus, encouraging leaders to take necessary action to ensure diversity in the workplace. The book is an excellent resource for individuals interested in organizational development and diverse cultures in the workplace.
Which of these Juneteenth books will you be adding to your reading list? Share your thoughts by commenting below!