Freedom Reading

by George Geder
Books Forum Manager

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For children:

Juneteenth: Freedom Day
by Muriel Miller Branch
Publisher: Cobblehill Books; 1st ed edition (April 1, 1998)
ISBN: 0525652221

Freedom's Gifts: A Juneteenth Story
by Valerie Wesley
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books; 1st ed edition (May 1, 1997)
ISBN: 0689802692

Juneteenth Jamboree
coverby Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Yvonne Buchanan
Publisher: Lee & Low Books; 1st ed edition (October 1, 1995)
ISBN: 1880000180

Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom
by Charles A. Taylor
Publisher: Open Hand Pub.; 1st edition (June 2002)
ISBN: 0940880687

For Adults:

Juneteenth Texas : Essays in African-American Folklore
coveredited by Francis Edward Abernathy, Alan B. Govenar, and Patrick Mullen
Publisher: University of North Texas Press; 1st ed edition (October 1, 1996)
ISBN: 1574410180

by Ralph Ellison; John F. Callahan (Editor)
Hardcover - 368 pages (June 1999)
Random House 
ISBN: 0394464575

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A Celebration of Freedom

by Angela Walton-Raji

"The People of Texas are informed that in accordance with a  proclamation from the Executive office of the United States, all slaves are free . . ."

Emancipation Proclamation. . . and so it begins, the declaration made in the city of Galveston Texas, in June of 1865 bringing word from Washington of the surrender at Appomattox, and of the release from bondage of all Africans held formerly as slaves. This celebration is the oldest celebration of its kind that commemorates the freedom of African slaves from bondage. 

The first Juneteenth occurred on June 19, 1865, when General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston Texas and read the proclamation.  It took some time for the word to spread throughout the city, but within a few short hours, word had spread, slaves dropped their tools of bondage and the first celebration of freedom began. 

General Orders No. 3

The festivities began on all levels. From Galveston to smaller towns in East Texas, celebrations began ranging from small thanksgiving prayer services to jubilant festive events.  The city of Galveston was said to have resembled a northern city by the almost lack of black presence in the city itself. The city's former slaves were with family and loved ones savoring the first sweet moments of freedom with each other.

There have been many emancipation celebrations throughout the south, celebrated on various days in other states.  The term Juneteenth itself was not coined until the 1920's. In other places in the south, the celebration is one where black  workers have actually been excused from work to celebrate the events. In Texas during the era of segregation, Juneteenth celebrants were actually allowed access to whites only amusement centers, until the inequity was pointed out to the city commission, that access should be year round, and not limited to one day.

Juneteenth: Freedom Day by Muriel M. BranchEventually  the celebration died over the years, but it experienced a rebirth when it was noted in the 1970's that the state of Texas continued to celebrate Confederate Heroes day, and within a short time the annual Juneteenth celebration returned with not only the celebration of freedom being a focus, but also a celebration of history, and culture being at the heart of the events.  The event has spread widely now throughout the country, and is an annual event from New England, throughout the midwest, deep south, and to the western states.

Juneteenth is here to stay, as a celebration of African people in the American experience.

More Resources

by Denise Oliver-Velez
Getting Started Forum Manager

Freedom Poem
Sojourner Kincaid Rolle by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle
The AfriGeneas Poet  

"Free at Last, Hallelujah, I'm free"

General Granger brought the news to Galveston:
The war is over!
The Emancipation Proclamation has declared,
All who live in bondage here shall be free.

Every year in the land of the Lone Star State,
Resounding from sea to sea,
the sons and daughters of those who were held
shout:, "Free at Last, Hallelujah, I'm free." 

Leaving their shackles where they fell on the ground,
after 300 years of forced bondage;  hands bound,
descendants of Africa picked up their souls
departed for the nearest resting place.

Some went no further than the shack out back
hard ground for a bed  hard labor to stay alive
Them that stayed said, "This is my home
Even though I can't really call it my own."

Some went to the nearest place of worship
perhaps  to a clearing in the grove
or some hollow place in the underbrush
Said "Jesus, Thank you for delivering me".

Some ran as fast as they could
into the service of another man
Working for a meager pittance
one backbend short of being a slavehand.

Some went to the closest speakeasy
toasted the Union  and Lady Luck,
patted each other on their whip-marked backs,
drank themselves into oblivion.

Some swam the way of the river
following the Rio Grande or the up-flowing Mississip
Hastening to get as far away as they could
Thrusting their futures into unknown sanctuary.

Some went straight to the promise land,
heart couldn't take this earthly joy no more.
Some kept running forever
like a stone unable to grasp the firmity.

No matter where they went
They said, "I an where my soul wants to be".
I will always remember; I will never forget
Now I can shout  "Hallelujah, I"m free"

June 2001 by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle. All Rights Reserved 



14 Jun 2004 | 26 Dec 2005
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