This year, 48 states and Washington, D.C. will recognize Juneteenth as a holiday. Juneteenth commemorates the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865. Texas was the last Confederate state where the proclamation was announced. Slavery did not officially end in the entire United States until December 6, 1865, when the 13th Amendment was ratified. Juneteenth reminds us that abolishing slavery was a process, not an event.
The first known Juneteenth celebrations began in 1866 and spread nationally as Black Americans began to migrate from Southern rural areas to cities. While block parties and barbecues are common, Juneteenth is also a moment for reflection, discussion and learning. That’s especially important this year, when Juneteenth coincides with a concerted push against “critical race theory” in schools, which many educators and historians view as an effort to limit how accurately history is taught.
To help you go deeper into Juneteenth and other aspects of Black history and heritage, the educational website Reconstruction US has created Black-themed courses for K-12 students and adults in all subject areas. Courses in history, literature and mathematics showcase the contributions people across the African diaspora have made to these disciplines. Young people can also enjoy classes like “Cooking for the Soul” and “Liberation by Design,” which helps tweens put design thinking to work in creating their futures.
For Juneteenth, Reconstruction US is offering free classes for students of all ages. View the complete schedule here.