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Juneteenth 2024

June 19th is Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. On this day in 1865 – two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective – the last enslaved people in Texas were finally made free by executive decree. Juneteenth is a celebration of that day.

Though it was not established as a federal holiday until 2021, Juneteenth has been celebrated by African American communities since the very first anniversary in 1866.

In celebration, we’re bringing back this list of powerful, influential fiction and nonfiction books on slavery, Black History, and the origins of Juneteenth.

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

by: Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

An assembly of 90 writers explores 400 years of African American history through different perspectives and techniques.

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

by: Ibram X. Kendi

A chronicling of anti-Black racist ideas which looks closely at the lives of intellectuals and leaders, from Thomas Jefferson to Angela Davis.

How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America

by: Clint Smith

Closely examines different locations and their relationship to slavery, including those that are honest about it and those that are not.

Juneteenth: A Novel

by: Ralph Ellison

After a racist white senator is shot in a would-be assassination, an African American reverend, with whom he has deeper ties than anyone realizes, aids him at his bedside and attempts to redeem him.

Black Joy: Stories of Resistance, Resilience, and Restoration

by: Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts

A collection of essays detailing moments of joy, even in the face of trauma, and emphasizing its power.

The Prophets: A Novel

by: Robert Jones, Jr.

Two young enslaved men find respite from the brutality of slavery in their love for each other, while an older enslaved man begins to turn the others on their own.

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

by: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

A close reading of African American experience in the years between Reconstruction and the Harlem Renaissance.

Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery

by: Deborah Willis and Barbara Krauthamer

A collection of 150 photos of African American people during the Civil War era, both before and after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Conjure Women: A Novel

by: Afia Atakora

Three women — an enslaved mother and daughter and their enslaver’s daughter — share bonds and secrets that see them through the Civil War and the birth of an accursed child.

Homegoing: A Novel

by: Yaa Gyasi

Two half-sisters are born into different villages in Ghana: one will be married into a comfortable life at Cape Coast Castle and the other will be sold into slavery and sent to America.

The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story

A collection of essays, poems, and works of fiction exploring the legacy of slavery in America; an expansion of The 1619 Project, originally published by The New York Times.

On Juneteenth

by: Annette Gordon-Reed

Combining memoir with American History; an examination of the origins of Juneteenth in Texas and the role of African Americans in Texan history.