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Teaching Your Kids about Juneteenth

The Responsibility, the Importance, and the Meaning

By: Port Discovery Staff

On Sunday, June 19th, Americans will observe our nation’s youngest federal holiday, Juneteenth. President Joe Biden officially declared Juneteenth as a federal holiday last year. Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in America through the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation. It is a day dedicated to celebrating accomplishments, justice and freedom for Black people, as well as reflection on the continuing struggle for equity. We encourage you to talk with your children about cultural holidays like Juneteenth.

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth commemorates the day, June 19, 1865, that 2,000 Union Troops arrived in Galveston, Texas and informed the remaining 250,000 enslaved Black people that the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by Abraham Lincoln. The signing of this document granted all Black people freedom. The first Juneteenth Celebration took place in 1866 in Texas where communities hosted sporting events, cookouts, prayers, dances, parades and spiritual songs.

What is the meaning of Juneteenth?

This year, 2022, marks 157 years since the Emancipation reached Texas, and Black people's struggle toward equity continues. As a reflection of this struggle, Juneteenth can evoke a variety of different emotions. Emanuel H. Brown, executive director of Acorn Center for Restoration and Freedom, believes Juneteenth is “a reminder of the importance of challenging the narrative that overlooks the rich cultural histories and strength of the Black community.” Often, history is presented through a biased viewpoint and work toward creating an equitable society requires research and facing the facts regarding the history of America.  

President Barack Obama reflected on Juneteenth by stating, “Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory or an acceptance of the way things are. It’s a celebration of progress. It’s an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, change is possible—and there is still so much work to do.”  As parents, caregivers and educators, it is our responsibility to teach children about Juneteenth and provide opportunities to reflect, celebrate, share and expose children to stories of Black culture, leadership, innovation, beauty and accomplishments. Together, we can encourage children to take action in the process of advancing equity.  

Here are resources for families and educators to use while encouraging Juneteenth discussions: 

Resources

Parenting for Liberation

Acorn Center for Freedom

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Koren Clark - Know Thy Self - Culturally Relevant Montessori Practices

Juneteenth Joy Activity Pack

Afrocentric Montessori

Easy to Understand Videos about Juneteenth

Fresburg Cartoons- “What is Juneteenth? Watch a Juneteenth Cartoon (Fun Facts about Juneteenth)”

CommUUnity Library- “Juneteenth - All About the Holidays - PBS Kids”

BrainPop- “Juneteenth”

Juneteenth Inspired Books

Books that are currently available at the Pratt Library are linked.

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