Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom and Remembrance

By Skokie Staff Advisory Services

Juneteenth, also known as Black Independence Day, Jubilee Day, or Emancipation Day for Black Americans, is a holiday that commemorates the day the last enslaved people were emancipated in the United States on June 19, 1865 with the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas. This was two and a half years after slavery was abolished more broadly in the United States through the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, and six months before the 13th Amendment in December 1865 made slavery unconstitutional. It is a day to celebrate freedom and also to remember the genocide of enslaved African Americans.

  • Watermelon & Red Birds: A Cookbook for Juneteenth and Black Celebrations

    2022 by Taylor, Nicole A.

    There is nothing that I can write that will put it better than James Beard Award-winning author Michael W. Twitty: "Juneteenth is not just about a moment; it's about a celebration of freedom--to choose, to experiment and to enjoy. Nicole Taylor exemplifies soul food as construct rather than canon--a place where dynamic ideas about food keep us grounded in the tradition while unfettering us from the expected and overplayed. The dance she takes us on in our kitchens is a thrill. 'Watermelon and Red Birds: A Cookbook for Juneteenth and Black Celebrations' is revolutionary." Recommended by Becca.

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  • On Juneteenth

    2021 by Gordon-Reed, Annette

    In its concision, eloquence, and clear presentation of history, "On Juneteenth" vitally revises conventional renderings of Texas and national history. As our nation verges on recognizing June 19 as a national holiday, "On Juneteenth" is both an essential account and a stark reminder that the fight for equality is exigent and ongoing. Recommended by Chris.

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  • Miss Juneteenth


    There is much to love about this independent drama from filmmaker Channing Godrey Peoples: its knockout performances, strong screenplay, and spot on authenticity--just to name a few. The story centers on former pageant winner Turquoise (Nicole Beharie) preparing her less-than-enthusiastic daughter for the Miss Juneteenth contest, the very same she won years earlier. While it is a personal story, the themes have a broader context and universality. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Juneteenth: A Novel

    1999 by Ellison, Ralph

    In Washington D.C. in the 1950s, Senator Sunraider is mortally wounded by an assassin's bullet. From his deathbed, he calls out for Hickman, an old black minister. As the two men relive their memories of a shared history, they gradually reveal the secrets of their past. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. says, "[A] stunning achievement. . . . 'Juneteenth' is a tour de force of untutored eloquence. Ellison sought no less than to create a Book of Blackness, a literary composition of the tradition at its most sublime and fundamental." Recommended by Allyson and Mary.

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  • The Brightest Day: A Juneteenth Historical Romance Anthology


    Written by four exalted romance novelists, this anthology includes the stories of ambitious women focused on working toward a better life and centering Juneteenth. Recommended by Becca.

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  • Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019


    2019 marked the four hundredth anniversary of the first African presence in the Americas--and also launched the Four Hundred Souls project, spearheaded by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha Blain. They've gathered together eighty Black writers from all disciplines--historians and artists, journalists and novelists--each of whom has contributed an entry about one five-year period, creating a dynamic multi-voiced single-volume history of Black people in America. Recommended by Becca.

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  • The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story


    This collection of essays, poems, and fiction expands on the original New York Times series which explores the legacy of slavery in present day America. Named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post and Marie Claire, this book explores the impact of slavery on the United States from when the first ship arrived with enslaved persons. Recommended by Michelle.

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  • Soul Food: The Surprising Story of An American Cuisine, One Plate at A Time

    2013 by Miller, Adrian

    An in-depth and engaging look at one of America's oldest cuisines, soul food. Miller did extensive researching, including historical cookbooks and firsthand accounts of enslaved people as well as visiting soul food restaurants across America. The author looks at a variety of "staple" soul food dishes and explains why they have become synonymous with the cuisine, including those foods featured at Juneteenth barbecues. Recommended by Becca.

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  • Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow

    2019 by Gates, Henry Louis

    The noted African American literary scholar and critic examines the tangled, troubled years between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the modern civil rights movement. Recommended by Chris.

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  • The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

    2010 by Wilkerson, Isabel

    Beautifully written and well-researched, Isabel Wilkerson's "The Warmth of Other Suns" provides a bevy of context, stories, and history of an under-told story: the migration of six million African Americans to northern states and western cities from 1915 to 1970. This, without question, played a significant role in shaping America as we know it today, and this book is key to having a fuller history of our country. It discusses how "people from Texas took Juneteenth Day to Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, and other places they went." Recommended by Paul.

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  • Emancipation Road


    The Juneteenth holiday offers us the opportunity to engage with the history of anti-Black oppression on a deeper level. This docuseries shows that though slavery may have ended with the Emancipation Proclamation, the continued oppression of Black people in the United States stems from the long-lasting effects of slavery and the years that followed. Recommended by Allyson.

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  • Bress 'n' Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes From A Sixth-generation Farmer

    2021 by Raiford, Matthew

    Combining family saga, folklore, and recipes ranging from Gullah Rice to Blackberry Doobie, "Bress 'n' Nyam" (the Gullah Geechee version of "Bless and Eat") will appeal to foodies and history buffs alike. Recommended by Andrew.

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