Deliberate attempts to obscure the ugliness of American history have hidden Juneteenth just out of “mainstream” culture’s frame since the holiday’s inception. Also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, or Liberation Day, the Galveston-bred cause for celebration marks the freeing of the final enslaved persons on American soil. 

Parts of the country, especially its birthplace of Texas, have honored Juneteenth with cookouts, parades and other community events for years, but with the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others whose names we haven’t yet heard forcing America to take a look at itself, there have been increased attempts to raise the profile of the occasion. As awareness spreads, however, concerns have been raised about sanitizing the legacy of this important day in Black American history.

While you could scour the internet for information, there’s no better resource on Juneteenth than printed text. The books listed below shed light on the history of Juneteenth through research and personal narratives, the racist systems erected in the aftermath of abolition and some of the art the holiday inspired.

TOPICS: