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The Baldwin Public Library will be closed on Monday, June 19, in observance of the Juneteenth holiday.

“Juneteenth is a commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. The holiday is observed on June 19—”June nineteenth” is shortened to “Juneteenth”—and is known by various names, including Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Liberation Day. Some call it America’s Second Independence Day. It began as a time of celebration when, on June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger (1821-1876) of the Union Army announced in Galveston, Texas, that the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865) was over and all enslaved people were free.”

On June 19, 1865, enslaved people in Texas were freed. After that date, however, formerly enslaved people were encouraged to remain where they were, working in the same positions for their former enslavers, only now for pay. Some raced to the North, in an effort to experience more perceived freedom. Others traveled to neighboring states in search of family members and friends.

The first of the Juneteenth celebrations was held the following year in 1866. Over the years, many formerly enslaved people, as well as their descendants, made an annual pilgrimage back to Texas for Juneteenth festivities, which included fishing and horseback riding, baseball, automobile races, and rodeos. The celebration, which usually centered around a barbeque or pig roast, often included lectures on educational topics as well as prayer services. Oftentimes, the Emancipation Proclamation was read aloud. Drinking strawberry pop at a Juneteenth celebration became a tradition.

During the early decades of the twentieth century, Juneteenth celebrations declined. Many reasons may account for this, including the Great Depression of the 1930s and a migration to cities from rural areas as people looked for jobs. Also, there was no mention of Juneteenth in the history books—it was not taught in schools. In the decades after World War II (1939-1945), however, a cry for civil rights brought Juneteenth back into people’s memories.

In 1979, Rep. Albert Edwards (1937-2020), introduced House Bill 1016 to the Texas House of Representatives calling for Juneteenth to be a recognized state holiday. It passed in 1980—June 19 was officially recognized in Texas as a holiday. As of 2020, 46 additional states, as well as the District of Columbia, have recognized Juneteenth as a state holiday. On June 19, 2021, President Biden recognized Juneteenth as a federal holiday.

“Juneteenth.” Historic U.S. Events, Gale, 2021. Gale In Context: U.S. History, link.gale.com/apps/doc/OALNND884389395/UHIC?u=lom_mnbl&sid=bookmark-UHIC&xid=2afd3ca2. Accessed 20 Mar. 2023.

Reading List

Baldwin staff members have put together a collection of titles to share more history on the history of Juneteenth .

Further Exploration

Learn more about Juneteenth with these resources provided by the Michigan eLibrary (MeL). From the earliest learner to the more advanced, there are articles, video clips, images, and primary source documents available in the Michigan eLibrary (MeL) to further our understanding of the newest federal holiday.

Radio & News Transcripts

While Points of View Reference Center offers thousands of articles and several images articulating the many pieces of history that led to the establishment of this federal holiday, one unique holding in this eResource is Radio & News Transcripts. These include complete transcripts from CBS Evening News, CNN Newsroom, Fox News, NBC Nightly News, and the Today Show among others. Additionally, this eResource allows users to utilize the limiters to search for international articles about Juneteenth and other subjects.


In the eBook Academic CollectionJuneteenth: The Story Behind the Celebration gives a scholarly account on the holiday’s history. For the more novice learner, the eBook K-8 Collection provides the 32-page nonfiction text, Juneteenth, that touches on slavery and presents ways the holiday is currently celebrated. For additional titles on Juneteenth, explore the entire suite of eBook Collections in MeL or use NoveList Plus to generate a title list.

Early Learning

For our earliest learners, PebbleGo Social Studies and Britannica School offer great video and audio tools to help support Juneteenth history and understanding. In PebbleGo Social Studies, students can click the Holiday link and see that Juneteenth is included among the 39 holidays listed. Britannica School has a thorough summary of the holiday as well as embedded links to related articles. Maybe the most notable offering from Britannica is this Q&A video that articulates the history and offers images of current celebrations around the country.

To further your learning about Juneteenth, please also consider investigating the following eResources in MeL: History Reference CenterHumanities Source, and Gale in Context: Opposing Viewpoints.

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