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Juneteenth: Our Day of Freedom

Sharon Dennis Wyeth

Some call it Freedom Day; some call it Emancipation Day; some call it Juneteenth. Learn more about this important holiday that celebrates the end of chattel slavery in the United States in this Step 3 History Reader.

On June 19, 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, a group of enslaved men, women, and children in Texas gathered. Order Number 3 was read, proclaiming that they were no longer enslaved--they were free. People danced, wept tears of joy, and began to plan their new lives. Juneteenth became an annual celebration that is observed by more and more Americans with parades, picnics, family gatherings, and reflection on the words of historical figures, to mark the day when freedom truly rang for all.

Step 3 Readers feature engaging characters in easy-to-follow plots and popular topics--for children who are ready to read on their own.

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On Juneteenth

Annette Gordon-Reed

The essential, sweeping story of Juneteenth’s integral importance to American history, as told by a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and Texas native.

Weaving together American history, dramatic family chronicle, and searing episodes of memoir, Annette Gordon-Reed’s On Juneteenth provides a historian’s view of the country’s long road to Juneteenth, recounting both its origins in Texas and the enormous hardships that African-Americans have endured in the century since, from Reconstruction through Jim Crow and beyond. All too aware of the stories of cowboys, ranchers, and oilmen that have long dominated the lore of the Lone Star State, Gordon-Reed—herself a Texas native and the descendant of enslaved people brought to Texas as early as the 1820s—forges a new and profoundly truthful narrative of her home state, with implications for us all.

Combining personal anecdotes with poignant facts gleaned from the annals of American history, Gordon-Reed shows how, from the earliest presence of Black people in Texas to the day in Galveston on June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of legalized slavery in the state, African-Americans played an integral role in the Texas story.

Reworking the traditional “Alamo” framework, she powerfully demonstrates, among other things, that the slave- and race-based economy not only defined the fractious era of Texas independence but precipitated the Mexican-American War and, indeed, the Civil War itself.

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.

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Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free

Alice Faye Duncan

Black activist Opal Lee had a vision of Juneteenth as a holiday for everyone. This true story celebrates Black joy and inspires children to see their dreams blossom. Growing up in Texas, Opal knew the history of Juneteenth, but she soon discovered that many Americans had never heard of the holiday. Join Opal on her historic journey to recognize and celebrate freedom for all.

Every year, Opal looked forward to the Juneteenth picnic--a drumming, dancing, delicious party. She knew from Granddaddy Zak's stories that Juneteenth celebrated the day the freedom news of President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation finally sailed into Texas in 1865--over two years after the president had declared it! But Opal didn't always see freedom in her Texas town. Then one Juneteenth day when Opal was twelve years old, an angry crowd burned down her brand-new home. This wasn't freedom at all. She had to do something! But could one person's voice make a difference? Could Opal bring about national recognition of Juneteenth? Follow Opal Lee as she fights to improve the future by honoring the past.

Through the story of Opal Lee's determination and persistence, children ages 4 to 8 will learn:

  • all people are created equal
  • the power of bravery and using your voice for change
  • the history of Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, and what it means today
  • no one is free unless everyone is free
  • fighting for a dream is worth the difficulty experienced along the way

Featuring the illustrations of New York Times bestselling illustrator Keturah A. Bobo (I am Enough), Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free by Alice Faye Duncan celebrates the life and legacy of a modern-day Black leader while sharing a message of hope, unity, joy, and strength.

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Black Birds in the Sky

Brandy Colbert

A searing new work of nonfiction from award-winning author Brandy Colbert about the history and legacy of one of the most deadly and destructive acts of racial violence in American history: the Tulsa Race Massacre. YALSA Honor Award for Excellence in Nonfiction

In the early morning of June 1, 1921, a white mob marched across the train tracks in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and into its predominantly Black Greenwood District—a thriving, affluent neighborhood known as America's Black Wall Street. They brought with them firearms, gasoline, and explosives.

In a few short hours, they'd razed thirty-five square blocks to the ground, leaving hundreds dead. The Tulsa Race Massacre is one of the most devastating acts of racial violence in US history. But how did it come to pass? What exactly happened? And why are the events unknown to so many of us today?

These are the questions that award-winning author Brandy Colbert seeks to answer in this unflinching nonfiction account of the Tulsa Race Massacre. In examining the tension that was brought to a boil by many factors—white resentment of Black economic and political advancement, the resurgence of white supremacist groups, the tone and perspective of the media, and more—a portrait is drawn of an event singular in its devastation, but not in its kind. It is part of a legacy of white violence that can be traced from our country's earliest days through Reconstruction, the Civil Rights movement in the mid–twentieth century, and the fight for justice and accountability Black Americans still face today.

The Tulsa Race Massacre has long failed to fit into the story Americans like to tell themselves about the history of their country. This book, ambitious and intimate in turn, explores the ways in which the story of the Tulsa Race Massacre is the story of America—and by showing us who we are, points to a way forward.

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Juneteenth

Ralph Ellison

The radiant, posthumous second novel by the visionary author of Invisible Man, featuring an introduction and a new postscript by Ralph Ellison's literary executor, John F. Callahan, and a preface by National Book Award-winning author Charles Johnson
 
“Ralph Ellison’s generosity, humor and nimble language are, of course, on display in Juneteenth, but it is his vigorous intellect that rules the novel. . . . A majestic narrative concept.”—Toni Morrison

In Washington, D.C., in the 1950s, Adam Sunraider, a race-baiting senator from New England, is mortally wounded by an assassin’s bullet while making a speech on the Senate floor. To the shock of all who think they know him, Sunraider calls out from his deathbed for Alonzo Hickman, an old black minister, to be brought to his side. The reverend is summoned; the two are left alone. “Tell me what happened while there’s still time,” demands the dying Sunraider.

Out of their conversation, and the inner rhythms of memories whose weight has been borne in silence for many long years, a story emerges. Senator Sunraider, once known as Bliss, was raised by Reverend Hickman in a black community steeped in religion and music (not unlike Ralph Ellison’s own childhood home) and was brought up to be a preaching prodigy in a joyful black Baptist ministry that traveled throughout the South and the Southwest. Together one last time, the two men retrace the course of their shared life in an “anguished attempt,” Ellison once put it, “to arrive at the true shape and substance of a sundered past and its meaning.” In the end, the two men confront their most painful memories, memories that hold the key to understanding the mysteries of kinship and race that bind them, and to the senator’s confronting how deeply estranged he had become from his true identity.

In Juneteenth, Ralph Ellison evokes the rhythms of jazz and gospel and ordinary speech to tell a powerful tale of a prodigal son in the twentieth century. At the time of his death in 1994, Ellison was still expanding his novel in other directions, envisioning a grand, perhaps multivolume, story cycle. Always, in his mind, the character Hickman and the story of Sunraider’s life from birth to death were the dramatic heart of the narrative. And so, with the aid of Ellison’s widow, Fanny, his literary executor, John Callahan, has edited this magnificent novel at the center of Ralph Ellison’s forty-year work in progress—its author’s abiding testament to the country he so loved and to its many unfinished tasks.

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Stamped (For Kids)

Jason Reynolds

The #1 New York Times bestseller!

This chapter book edition of the #1 New York Times bestseller by luminaries Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds is an essential introduction to the history of racism and antiracism in America
 
RACE. Uh-oh. The R-word. 
But actually talking about race is one of the most important things to learn how to do.

Adapted from the groundbreaking bestseller Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, this book takes readers on a journey from present to past and back again. Kids will discover where racist ideas came from, identify how they impact America today, and meet those who have fought racism with antiracism. Along the way, they’ll learn how to identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their own lives. 
 
Ibram X. Kendi’s research, Jason Reynolds’s and Sonja Cherry-Paul’s writing, and Rachelle Baker’s art come together in this vital read, enhanced with a glossary, timeline, and more.

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The Story Behind Juneteenth

Jack Reader

Juneteenth, which is celebrated each year on June 19th, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. This holiday began in 1865, more than two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. News spread much slower back then, and when slaves in Texas finally learned of their freedom, the holiday was born. In this book, readers are given an in-depth look at the history of Juneteenth, including the events leading up to its creation. Readers will love learning about how this important moment in U.S. history is celebrated each year.

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Chains

Laurie Halse Anderson

From acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson comes this compelling first novel in the historical middle grade The Seeds of America trilogy that shows the lengths we can go to cast off our chains, both physical and spiritual.

As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight...for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel.

When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.

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Juneteenth

Lisa A. Crayton

Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. Across the country, people observe the day with speeches, poetry readings, festivals, picnics, street fairs, and family reunions. It is a day for people to come together and continue working toward equality. Readers will discover how a shared holiday can have multiple traditions and be celebrated in all sorts of ways.

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Across the Tracks

Alverne Ball

One hundred years after the Tulsa Race Massacre, Across the Tracks is a celebration and memorial of Greenwood, Oklahoma

In Across the Tracks: Remembering Greenwood, Black Wall Street, and the Tulsa Race Massacre, author Alverne Ball and illustrator Stacey Robinson have crafted a love letter to Greenwood, Oklahoma. Also known as Black Wall Street, Greenwood was a community whose importance is often overshadowed by the atrocious massacre that took place there in 1921.

Across the Tracks introduces the reader to the businesses and townsfolk who flourished in this unprecedented time of prosperity for Black Americans. We learn about Greenwood and why it is essential to remember the great achievements of the community as well as the tragedy which nearly erased it. However, Ball is careful to recount the eventual recovery of Greenwood. With additional supplementary materials including a detailed preface, timeline, and historical essay, Across the Tracks offers a thorough examination of the rise, fall, and rebirth of Black Wall Street.

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Freedom Summer For Young People

Bruce Watson

This latest edition in Triangle Square's For Young People series is a gripping account of the summer that changed America.


In the summer of 1964, as the Civil Rights movement boiled over, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) sent more than seven hundred college students to Mississippi to help black Americans already battling for democracy, their dignity and the right to vote. The campaign was called “Freedom Summer.” But on the evening after volunteers arrived, three young civil rights workers went missing, presumed victims of the Ku Klux Klan.  The disappearance focused America’s attention on Mississippi. In the days and weeks that followed, volunteers and local black activists faced intimidation, threats, and violence from white people who didn't believe African Americans should have the right to vote. As the summer unfolded, volunteers were arrested or beaten.  Black churches were burned.  More Americans came to Mississippi, including doctors, clergymen, and Martin Luther King. A few frightened volunteers went home, but the rest stayed on in Mississippi, teaching in Freedom Schools, registering voters, and living with black people as equals.  Freedom Summer brought out the best and the worst in America. The story told within these pages is of everyday people fighting for freedom, a fight that continues today. Freedom Summer for Young People is a riveting account of a decisive moment in American history, sure to move and inspire readers.

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Celebrating Juneteenth

Jody Jensen Shaffer

Juneteenth, also called Freedom Day and Emancipation Day, commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. Readers will discover the history behind the day and find out ways to celebrate on their own. Additional features to aid comprehension include activities and poetry, informative sidebars, a table of contents, a phonetic glossary, sources for further research, an index, and an introduction to the author and illustrator.

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Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation

Octavia E. Butler

Octavia E. Butler’s bestselling literary science-fiction masterpiece, Kindred, now in graphic novel format.
 
More than 35 years after its release, Kindred continues to draw in new readers with its deep exploration of the violence and loss of humanity caused by slavery in the United States, and its complex and lasting impact on the present day. Adapted by celebrated academics and comics artists Damian Duffy and John Jennings, this graphic novel powerfully renders Butler’s mysterious and moving story, which spans racial and gender divides in the antebellum South through the 20th century. 
 
Butler’s most celebrated, critically acclaimed work tells the story of Dana, a young black woman who is suddenly and inexplicably transported from her home in 1970s California to the pre–Civil War South. As she time-travels between worlds, one in which she is a free woman and one where she is part of her own complicated familial history on a southern plantation, she becomes frighteningly entangled in the lives of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder and one of Dana’s own ancestors, and the many people who are enslaved by him.
 
Held up as an essential work in feminist, science-fiction, and fantasy genres, and a cornerstone of the Afrofuturism movement, there are over 500,000 copies of Kindred in print. The intersectionality of race, history, and the treatment of women addressed within the original work remain critical topics in contemporary dialogue, both in the classroom and in the public sphere.
 
Frightening, compelling, and richly imagined, Kindred offers an unflinching look at our complicated social history, transformed by the graphic novel format into a visually stunning work for a new generation of readers.

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Juneteenth

Edward T. Cotham

Juneteenth has been touted as a national day celebrating the end of slavery. Observances from coast to coast have turned this event into part of the national conversation about race, slavery, and how Americans understand, acknowledge, and explain what has been called the national "original sin."

But, why Juneteenth? Where did this celebration--which promises to become a national holiday--come from? What is the origin story? What are the facts, and legends, around this important day in the nation's history?

This is the first scholarly book to delve into the history behind Juneteenth. Using decades of research in archives around the nation, this book helps separate myth from reality and tells the story behind the celebration in a way that provides new understanding and appreciation for the event.

This book will captivate people interested in the history of emancipation and African American history but also those interested in Civil War and Texas history.

As the United States continues to wrestle with race relations and the meaning of full equality, Juneteenth promises to become an important expression of that equality--an Independence Day celebration in its own right, a couple of weeks in advance of the traditional July 4th Holiday. This book will be a welcome addition to classrooms, book clubs and general readers interested in this once obscure regional event now destined for the national spotlight.

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All Different Now

Angela Johnson

Experience the joy of Juneteenth in this celebration of freedom from the award-winning team of Angela Johnson and E.B. Lewis.

Through the eyes of one little girl, All Different Now tells the story of the first Juneteenth, the day freedom finally came to the last of the slaves in the South. Since then, the observance of June 19 as African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond. This stunning picture book includes notes from the author and illustrator, a timeline of important dates, and a glossary of relevant terms.

Told in Angela Johnson’s signature melodic style and brought to life by E.B. Lewis’s striking paintings, All Different Now is a joyous portrait of the dawn breaking on the darkest time in our nation’s history.

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Juneteenth for Mazie

Floyd Cooper

Mazie is ready to celebrate liberty. She is ready to celebrate freedom. She is ready to celebrate a great day in American history. The day her ancestors were no longer slaves. Mazie remembers the struggles and the triumph, as she gets ready to celebrate Juneteenth.

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Dreamland Burning

Jennifer Latham

A compelling dual-narrated tale from Jennifer Latham that questions how far we've come with race relations.

Some bodies won't stay buried.

Some stories need to be told.

When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family's property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the present and the past.

Nearly one hundred years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what's right the night Tulsa burns.

Through intricately interwoven alternating perspectives, Jennifer Latham's lightning-paced page-turner brings the Tulsa race riot of 1921 to blazing life and raises important questions about the complex state of US race relations--both yesterday and today.

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