All three Davenport Public Library locations are closed today in observance of Juneteenth. June 19th is Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. The Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863, but it wasn’t until June 19, 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas that the last enslaved African Americans were declared free by General Order No. 3. Soldiers entered the state of Texas to force the liberation of enslaved people. They came two months after the end of the Civil War and two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
Juneteenth National Freedom Day became a recoginzed holiday in Iowa on April 11, 2002. Iowa was the 7th state to recognize Junettenth as a state holiday and roughly the 10th state to formally commemorate/observe Juneteenth. On June 17th, 2021, President Biden signed into law a bill making Juneteenth a national holiday, a law called the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act.
Below we have gathered Juneteenth resources. Descriptions provide by the publisher or authors.
Opal Lee and What it Means to be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth by Alice Faye Duncan, illustrations by Keturah A. Bobo
Every year, Opal looked forward to the Juneteenth picnic—a drumming, dancing, delicious party. She knew from Granddaddy Zak’s stories that Juneteenth celebrated the day the freedom news of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation finally sailed into Texas in 1865—over two years after the president had declared it! But Opal didn’t always see freedom in her Texas town. Then one Juneteenth day when Opal was twelve years old, an angry crowd burned down her brand-new home. This wasn’t freedom at all. She had to do something! But could one person’s voice make a difference? Could Opal bring about national recognition of Juneteenth? Follow Opal Lee as she fights to improve the future by honoring the past.
Through the story of Opal Lee’s determination and persistence, children ages 4 to 8 will learn:
- all people are created equal
- the power of bravery and using your voice for change
- the history of Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, and what it means today
- no one is free unless everyone is free
- fighting for a dream is worth the difficulty experienced along the way
Featuring the illustrations of New York Times bestselling illustrator Keturah A. Bobo (I am Enough), Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free by Alice Faye Duncan celebrates the life and legacy of a modern-day Black leader while sharing a message of hope, unity, joy, and strength.
Juneteenth by Van G. Garrett
A lyrical picture book about our newest national holiday, Juneteenth follows the annual celebration in Galveston, Texas—birthplace of Juneteenth—through the eyes of a boy coming to understand his place in Black American history in a story from three Texan creators.
A young Black child experiences the magic of the Juneteenth parade for the first time with their family as they come to understand the purpose of the party that happens every year—and why they celebrate their African American history!
The poetic text includes selected lyrics from “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the unofficial Black National Anthem, and the vibrant art illuminates the beauty of this moment of Black joy, celebrated across the nation. This vibrant adventure through the city streets invites young readers to make a joyful noise about freedom for all.
On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed
Weaving together American history, dramatic family chronicle, and searing episodes of memoir, Annette Gordon-Reed’s On Juneteenth provides a historian’s view of the country’s long road to Juneteenth, recounting both its origins in Texas and the enormous hardships that African-Americans have endured in the century since, from Reconstruction through Jim Crow and beyond. All too aware of the stories of cowboys, ranchers, and oilmen that have long dominated the lore of the Lone Star State, Gordon-Reed—herself a Texas native and the descendant of enslaved people brought to Texas as early as the 1820s—forges a new and profoundly truthful narrative of her home state, with implications for us all.
Combining personal anecdotes with poignant facts gleaned from the annals of American history, Gordon-Reed shows how, from the earliest presence of Black people in Texas to the day in Galveston on June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of legalized slavery in the state, African-Americans played an integral role in the Texas story.
Reworking the traditional “Alamo” framework, she powerfully demonstrates, among other things, that the slave- and race-based economy not only defined the fractious era of Texas independence but precipitated the Mexican-American War and, indeed, the Civil War itself.
In its concision, eloquence, and clear presentation of history, On Juneteenth vitally revises conventional renderings of Texas and national history. As our nation verges on recognizing June 19 as a national holiday, On Juneteenth is both an essential account and a stark reminder that the fight for equality is exigent and ongoing.
Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison
In Washington, D.C., in the 1950s, Adam Sunraider, a race-baiting senator from New England, is mortally wounded by an assassin’s bullet while making a speech on the Senate floor. To the shock of all who think they know him, Sunraider calls out from his deathbed for Alonzo Hickman, an old black minister, to be brought to his side. The reverend is summoned; the two are left alone. “Tell me what happened while there’s still time,” demands the dying Sunraider.
Out of their conversation, and the inner rhythms of memories whose weight has been borne in silence for many long years, a story emerges. Senator Sunraider, once known as Bliss, was raised by Reverend Hickman in a black community steeped in religion and music (not unlike Ralph Ellison’s own childhood home) and was brought up to be a preaching prodigy in a joyful black Baptist ministry that traveled throughout the South and the Southwest. Together one last time, the two men retrace the course of their shared life in an “anguished attempt,” Ellison once put it, “to arrive at the true shape and substance of a sundered past and its meaning.” In the end, the two men confront their most painful memories, memories that hold the key to understanding the mysteries of kinship and race that bind them, and to the senator’s confronting how deeply estranged he had become from his true identity.
In Juneteenth, Ralph Ellison evokes the rhythms of jazz and gospel and ordinary speech to tell a powerful tale of a prodigal son in the twentieth century. At the time of his death in 1994, Ellison was still expanding his novel in other directions, envisioning a grand, perhaps multivolume, story cycle. Always, in his mind, the character Hickman and the story of Sunraider’s life from birth to death were the dramatic heart of the narrative. And so, with the aid of Ellison’s widow, Fanny, his literary executor, John Callahan, has edited this magnificent novel at the center of Ralph Ellison’s forty-year work in progress—its author’s abiding testament to the country he so loved and to its many unfinished tasks.
A Flag for Juneteenth by Kim Taylor
Expert quilter Kim Taylor shares a unique and powerful story of the celebration of the first Juneteenth, from the perspective of a young girl.
On June 19, 1865, in Galveston, General Gordon Granger of the Union Army delivered the message that African Americans in Texas were free. Since then, Juneteenth, as the day has come to be known, has steadily gained recognition throughout the United States. ln 2020,a powerful wave of protests and demonstrations calling for racial justice and equality brought new awareness to the significance of the holiday.
A Flag for Juneteenth depicts a close-knit community of enslaved African Americans on a plantation in Texas, the day before the announcement is to be made that all enslaved people are free. Young Huldah, who is preparing to celebrate her tenth birthday, can’t possibly anticipate how much her life will change that Juneteenth morning. The story follows Huldah and her community as they process the news of their freedom and celebrate together by creating a community freedom flag.
Debut author and artist Kim Taylor sets this story apart by applying her skills as an expert quilter. Each of the illustrations has been lovingly hand sewn and quilted, giving the book a homespun, tactile quality that is altogether unique.
Juneteenth by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
June 19th, 1865, began as another hot day in Texas. Enslaved African Americans worked in fields, in barns, and in the homes of the white people who owned them. Then a message arrived. Freedom! Slavery had ended! The Civil War had actually ended in April. It took two months for word to reach Texas. Still the joy of that amazing day has never been forgotten. Every year, people all over the United States come together on June 19th to celebrate the end of slavery. Join in the celebration of Juneteenth, a day to remember and honor freedom for all people.
Encourage understanding of diverse cultures. Featuring full-page illustrations, these beautiful editions look at the history and customs associated with various holidays and present early readers with high-interest offerings.
The Night Before Freedom: A Juneteenth Story by Glenda Armand
This moving picture book tells the story of Juneteenth with all the care and reverence such a holiday deserves. The rhyming text and stunning illustrations will teach children about this historic day in history.
‘Twas the night before freedom, and all through the South,
long-whispered rumors had, spread word of mouth.
“It’s coming! It’s coming!” I heard people say.
“Emancipation is coming our way.”
Eight-year-old David and his family gather at Grandma’s house in Galveston, Texas, for a cherished family tradition: Grandma’s annual retelling of the story of Juneteenth, the holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.
The signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln meant that all enslaved persons within the rebellious states would be free as of January 1, 1863. However, people in Texas did not receive the news of their emancipation until two and a half years later—on June 19, 1865.
Grandma tells the story of anticipation, emancipation, and jubilation just as it was told to her many years before by her own grandmother, Mom Bess. As a six-year-old, Bess had experienced the very first Juneteenth. Before that day, she could only imagine what liberty would look like. But once freedom arrived, would it live up to a little girl’s dreams?
The story is written in the same meter as Clement C. Moore’s The Night Before Christmas, making it a perfect book for parents and kids to read together.
All Different Now: Juneteenth, the first day of freedom by Angela Johnson & E.B. Lewis
Experience the joy of Juneteenth in this celebration of freedom from the award-winning team of Angela Johnson and E.B. Lewis.
Through the eyes of one little girl, All Different Now tells the story of the first Juneteenth, the day freedom finally came to the last of the slaves in the South. Since then, the observance of June 19 as African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond. This stunning picture book includes notes from the author and illustrator, a timeline of important dates, and a glossary of relevant terms.
Told in Angela Johnson’s signature melodic style and brought to life by E.B. Lewis’s striking paintings, All Different Now is a joyous portrait of the dawn breaking on the darkest time in our nation’s history.
Build a House by Rhiannon Giddens
African Americans were forcibly enslaved and brought to this land to build houses they were not allowed to live in, tend to families who were not their own, and sow the seeds that fed a nation – while being left with only scraps themselves. They were not expected to thrive. But they did.
In her picture book debut from Candlewick Press, MacArthur Fellowship recipient and Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Rhiannon Giddens depicts a family’s resilience in the face of violence and sorrow. They are determined not just to survive, but also to tell their own story.
Based on the song “Build A House,” composed for the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth and performed with renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Giddens’s stirring text is paired with moving illustrations by Monica Mikai. Build a House confronts the history of slavery in America by telling the story of a courageous people who would not be moved and the music that sustained them through untold challenges. Steeped in sorrow and joy, resilience and resolve, turmoil and transcendence, this dramatic debut offers a proud view of history and a vital message for readers of all ages: honor your heritage, express your truth, and let your voice soar, even—or perhaps especially—when your heart is heaviest.
Hidden Black History: from Juneteenth to redlining by Amanda Jackson Green
Many important moments in history have not been taught in schools or explored in the mainstream media. These events often include people of color and involve Black history. This “whitewashing” of history, intentional or not, puts all Americans at a disadvantage. Learn about Black history moments that shaped America, from the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in Virginia in 1619 to the Freedom Summer of 1964, and read about efforts to reshape how we teach Black history in schools in the 21st century.
Juneteenth: Our Day of Freedom by Sharon Dennis Wyeth
Some call it Freedom Day; some call it Emancipation Day; some call it Juneteenth. Learn more about this important holiday that celebrates the end of chattel slavery in the United States in this Step 3 History Reader.
On June 19, 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, a group of enslaved men, women, and children in Texas gathered. Order Number 3 was read, proclaiming that they were no longer enslaved–they were free. People danced, wept tears of joy, and began to plan their new lives. Juneteenth became an annual celebration that is observed by more and more Americans with parades, picnics, family gatherings, and reflection on the words of historical figures, to mark the day when freedom truly rang for all.
How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith
Beginning in his hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads the reader on an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks—those that are honest about the past and those that are not—that offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping our nation’s collective history, and ourselves.
It is the story of the Monticello Plantation in Virginia, the estate where Thomas Jefferson wrote letters espousing the urgent need for liberty while enslaving more than four hundred people. It is the story of the Whitney Plantation, one of the only former plantations devoted to preserving the experience of the enslaved people whose lives and work sustained it. It is the story of Angola, a former plantation-turned-maximum-security prison in Louisiana that is filled with Black men who work across the 18,000-acre land for virtually no pay. And it is the story of Blandford Cemetery, the final resting place of tens of thousands of Confederate soldiers.
A deeply researched and transporting exploration of the legacy of slavery and its imprint on centuries of American history, How the Word Is Passed illustrates how some of our country’s most essential stories are hidden in plain view—whether in places we might drive by on our way to work, holidays such as Juneteenth, or entire neighborhoods like downtown Manhattan, where the brutal history of the trade in enslaved men, women, and children has been deeply imprinted.
Informed by scholarship and brought to life by the story of people living today, Smith’s debut work of nonfiction is a landmark of reflection and insight that offers a new understanding of the hopeful role that memory and history can play in making sense of our country and how it has come to be.