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  • Marty Zimmerman

A Resource Guide for Juneteenth

Updated: Dec 6, 2023


Juneteenth Freedom Day graphic

What does this day commemorate? On June 19, 1865, approximately two months following the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox, Virginia, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas. He told enslaved African-Americans that they were now free and that the Civil War had ended. General Granger’s announcement put into effect the Emancipation Proclamation, issued more than two and a half years earlier on January 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln. This day marks the beginning of freedom - something that has yet to be won. Our definition of freedom is ever-expanding. President Joe Biden signed the legislation that made Juneteenth a federal holiday on June 2021, with tremendous progress in expanding that definition.


It has been a long journey since communities came together to demand justice, equity, and freedom during the George Floyd protests, which became the catalyst for many in the U.S. to educate themselves and others, rallying in support of justice, supporting black-owned businesses, and committing themselves to anti-racism. Now is the time to reflect on the past and renew our commitment to creating equitable communities for all.


Juneteenth is a day to celebrate the freedoms provided by the Emancipation Proclamation. In the spirit of continuing the work to liberate marginalized communities, we ask you to explore events, books, and other mediums to educate yourself about the inequities that persist across the U.S. today.


We have included some ideas for engaging and educating yourself this Juneteenth, and we hope you find some on your own! We encourage everyone to reflect, learn, and grow in commemorating this holiday.


Attend an Event:

This historic street festival returns to the Five Points neighborhood on June 17-18th with live performances, art, vendors, and fun for the entire family.


Celebrate Juneteenth through culture and freedom, and commemorate the end of slavery and brave beginnings. This event is on Saturday, June 17th, from 1:00 – 5:00 PM in Roosevelt Park, Longmont. If you cannot make that time or want more time to celebrate, don’t fret! A second event will be held at the Longmont Theatre Company starting at 7:00 PM.


Commemorate Juneteenth with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance at their incredible event inspired by culture, mental health for Black Americans, and advocacy. Also, enjoy some incredible performances and discussions about the Black Arts Movement.


Support local Black-Owned Businesses:

Why is this important to do? Check out this article.


Reading Materials:

The Third Reconstruction by Peniel E. Joseph - The Third Reconstruction delves into the racial awakening in 2020, which the author posits as the pinnacle of a Third Reconstruction. With profound historical parallels, the novel explores the connections and revelations from the First and Second Reconstruction. It traces this Third Reconstruction from the moment Barack Obama was elected to the emergence of Black Lives Matter and the ill-fated attack on the Capitol.


Why should you read it? Through a historical lens encompassing America's First and Second Reconstructions, this novel provides context and exploration of the 21st-century struggle for racial justice. Joseph skillfully weaves his personal experiences with impactful historical events, revealing how acknowledging and reflecting upon Black history can guide us in our future path.


The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander - The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement.


Why should you read it? Alexander shows that, by targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. If you have watched The 13th on Netflix, this is an excellent resource to learn more.


Four Hundred Souls by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain - Four Hundred Souls discusses four hundred years of African American history ranging from 1619 to today. Through various unique perspectives, the story is told through a range of historical documents and personal accords.


Why should you read it? The authors tackle racial assumptions and deflate them using each of their individual voices. Together, they reveal honest and unspoken foundations of institutional racism to expose an area in American history that has been neglected for so long. Through the history explored in the novel, there is a tangible sense of resilience, strength, rebellion, and endurance from the Black community.


In the Wake: On Blackness and Being by Christina Sharpe - Christina Sharpe interrogates literary, visual, cinematic, and quotidian representations of Black life that comprise what she calls the "orthography of the wake." Activating multiple registers of "wake"—the path behind a ship, keeping watch with the dead, coming to consciousness—Sharpe illustrates how Black lives are swept up and animated by the afterlives of slavery, and she delineates what survives despite such insistent violence and negation.


Why should you read it? Sharpe’s poignant metaphor of anti-Blackness as the climate captures the reality of the pervasiveness of racism in Western culture. She writes about Black life in the wake of this violence, both past and present. Her use of metaphor also makes the theory that can seem intimidating much more accessible. This one will stay with you.


Other Reads:

Podcasts:

  • The Takeaway: 153 Years of Juneteenth - The truth is many Americans do not know about Juneteenth. Actress Jenifer Lewis, who plays Grandma Ruby on Black-ish, joins to discuss why Juneteenth being "mainstream" is essential.

  • The Daily: The History and Meaning of Juneteenth - Hear answers to and ideas as to why Juneteenth has reached its popularity and prominence at times when the struggles and pain for Black liberation seem at their worst. Additionally, listen to how the definition of freedom has changed to accommodate modern times.

  • The Peas in the Podcast: Merry Juneteenth - Hear the Peas discuss what Juneteenth is all about, the ways they celebrate, and the culinary past of the holiday.

  • Still Processing - Hosted by two Black, queer culture writers from The New York Times, Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris, who make sense of the internet, trends, social issues, and pop culture at large.

  • 1619- A NY Times Podcast on how slavery has transformed America, connecting past and present through the oldest form of storytelling, hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Films/Videos:

Selma - Selma depicts the period after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed and made segregation illegal. Yet, discrimination was still very pertinent, especially regarding obstacles for Black people to vote. In an effort to hold a non-violent protest against these injustices, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. organized a march from Selma to Montgomery, and their efforts culminated with the president signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

  • Where to watch: fuboTV or Paramount+

The Hate U Give – A teenage girl does her best to fit in as a Black girl attending a predominantly white school; yet, things take a turn when she is forced to stand up for herself and use her voice to fight against police brutality and injustices that the Black community faces daily. Maya Angelou passed away in 2014 but was able to participate in this joyful documentary that celebrates her life and her career's vast impact.

  • Where to watch: Apple TV or Amazon Video

Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland - Say Her Name is yet another depiction of what an interaction with police can lead to for a Black individual.

  • Where to watch: Hulu and Apple TV

The Black Power Mixtape 1967–1975 - The Black Power Mixtape is a "treasure" of sorts that was found in a Swedish basement and offers never-before-seen interviews with leaders of the Black Power Movement.

  • Where to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWb5HVAAQz0


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