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Celebrate Juneteenth with the Library

On June 19th 1865 – more than two and a half years after the President Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery – Union Army General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and told the nation’s last remaining enslaved peoples that they were free. With his news, over 250,000 enslaved peoples were liberated. The move marked the official end of the enslavement of African Americans nationwide.

Today, we commemorate the end of slavery by celebrating Juneteenth. The holiday signifies joy, freedom, emancipation, and resistance –– past and present. Although Juneteenth has been celebrated within African American communities since 1866, it was formally recognized as a federal holiday in 2021.

Honor Juneteenth this year with a book from the Library or by visiting the African American Resource Collection, located on the first floor of Main Library, at 219 Loyola Avenue.

Or, celebrate with us in person at Rosa F. Keller Library & Community Center on Saturday, June 17. We’re teaming up with Young Audiences to host their third annual Super Summer Broadmoor Juneteenth event.  The fun kicks off at 9:30 a.m. with a singalong, performers, activities, and free book for kids. Open to families with children, especially ages 8 and under.

Learn more here.

Celebrating Juneteenth: Grades K – 3:

Juneteenth Reads for Adults:

For young readers, AARC associate Gregory Jean also recommends Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes, which is part of the critically-acclaimed trilogy, the Louisiana Girls.

The coming of age trilogy brings three heroic Louisiana girls together across history. Sugar is the second in the series. It follows 10-year old Sugar as she seeks a bigger world in post-Civil War America. At its core, it’s a touching story about a strong, spirited young girl who rises beyond her circumstances and inspires others to work toward a brighter future. 

“I think this book connects to Juneteenth because it illustrates the challenges African-Americans still faced post-Emancipation,” Jean said. “Many formerly enslaved remained on their plantations, working for a bleak wage within very similar working conditions. In many ways, they were still trapped.”

Sugar is best suited for readers in grades 3-6.

For adults, Jean suggests Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo by Zora Neale Hurston. 

Hurston was a world-renowned writer and anthropologist, whose works often depicted African-American life in the South. Barracoon is a non-fiction work based on three months of interviews in 1927 with Oluale Kossula, who was – at the time – the last presumed living survivor of the Middle Passage. 

Through these interviews, Kossula provides first-hand accounts of his time in Africa, his capture, his bondage on the slave ship Clotilda, and forced servitude in Alabama. The book tracks slavery’s violence and aftermath through the words, memories, and history of a single person who survived it. 

“We chose this title because it complicates the usually flattened slave narrative, and creates an often-downplayed, but deeply important link between African-Americans and Africa,” Jean said.

Juneteenth Movies:

If you want to watch a movie or documentary examining the history and legacy of Juneteenth, check out Kanopy’s curated playlist. Featuring titles like Roots, The Uncomfortable Truth, Ken Burns’ Civil War, Miss Juneteenth, and more, Kanopy is a great resource for free streaming.

New Orelans Juneteenth Festival 

Celebrate Juneteenth in the community by attending the New Orleans Juneteenth Festival at Louis Armstrong Park on June 19 from 2-7pm. Presented by the Louisiana Afro-Indigenous Society, the event features music, art, food from local vendors, a community marriage/vow renewal, and more. Visit to learn more.

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