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Black Lives Matter

This guide offers suggested resources from RLB librarians, archivists, and staff and the broader community for learning more about racism, inequality, white privilege, policing, and other social issues impacting the lives of Black Americans.

What is Juneteenth? Why is it celebrated?

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth (short for June 19th) is a celebration of the emancipation of then-enslaved African American people in the United States of America. The date June 19, 1865 was the date that the remaining enslaved African Americans, hundreds of thousands of people living in Texas were told that they were FREE! Union Army general Gordon Granger led the troops who went to Texas to spread the word. 

This meant they no longer had to toil in chains and bondage, under threat of violence or worse. To their country, the United States, they were no longer considered chattel property, but free men and women. Juneteenth was first commemorated and celebrated in 1866. 

The Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1862, so why did it take an additional three years for enslaved people of color to be freed? 

Though President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, he did not official declare enslavement illegal until January 1, 1863. This was two years before the enslaved people living in the most remote parts of the country like Texas, would find out they were now free. Juneteenth also occurred two months after the official end to the Civil War. Texas was the  most remote of American slave states, and there were few Union soldiers in the region. Therefore, news of emancipation travelled painfully slowly through the South; after all, slavers had a lot to lose by notifying the enslaved African Americans that they were free by law. 

RLB Books on Juneteenth & Black Liberation

Reference/ Non-Circulating Books

Request these books through ILL. 

Government Documents

eBooks on Black Liberation