Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Today is Juneteenth!

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the U. S. and has been an African American tradition since the late 19th century.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865 and is the day 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take possession of the state and free its slaves.

The new freedmen held large public celebrations and the word 'Juneteenth' resulted from the words 'June Nineteenth' being blended together.

After 1865, Juneteenth was mainly celebrated in Texas. However, it is now a state holiday or observance in more than half of the states and there is a campaign for it to become a national holiday or observance. 
As of June 2011, 42 states and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as either a state holiday or state holiday observance; these are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Try one of the following books about Juneteenth:

Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison
Jubilee Journey by Carolyn Meyer

And try these historical novels set around the Reconstruction after the Civil War:
Color of Lightning by Paulette Jiles
Gloryland by Shelton Johnson
Original Sins by Peg Kingman
Some Sing, Some Cry by Ntozake Shange

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