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Juneteenth’s mission is to inspire, support, and disseminate information related to Juneteenth to individuals, organizations, and corporations. Juneteenth is noted as the oldest nationally celebrated African American holiday.

Opal Lee

Opal Lee

Retired educator Opal Lee of Texas set an ambitious new goal just before her 90th birthday in 2016. She decided to embark upon a walking pilgrimage to Washington, DC, to raise awareness about making Juneteenth a holiday. Lee got her wish in 2021 when President Joe Biden signed a bill officially making Juneteenth (June 19) a national holiday.

Lee has said, "[Juneteenth] should be a unifier. First of all, slaves did not free themselves. It took abolitionists and Quakers and all kinds of folks to help and lobby to get the slaves freed. We need to acknowledge that and we need to unify and help people to come to the realization that working together is ... a lot better than trying to do things by yourself. I truly believe that we can do so much more together rather than apart."

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Al Edwards

Al Edwards

Called the “Father of Juneteenth”, Albert Ely Edwards founded in 1985 Juneteenth USA, the oldest Juneteenth nonprofit advocacy organization in the US. Its purpose at its founding was to raise awareness of the Juneteenth holiday and to encourage US state legislatures to pass Juneteenth as a state holiday. Under Edwards’ leadership, over 30 state legislatures around the country passed a bill making Juneteenth or “June 19th” a state holiday.

Edwards served in the Texas State Legislature for 28 years for Houston’s District 146. His first major law was to ensure the establishment of a holiday that recognized the emancipation of slavery. Celebrated on June 19th, Juneteenth commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas. Legislation recognizing Juneteenth, initiated by Edwards, passed the Texas State Legislature and was signed into law in 1979. Edwards passed away in 2020, a year before the state holiday would become a national holiday.

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Carole Boston Weatherford

Carole Boston Weatherford

Carole Boston Weatherford is a college professor and best-selling children’s book author. She wrote the beautifully illustrated 1995 book, Juneteenth Jamboree, which chronicles young Cassandra’s discovery and excitement about the activities of her new town’s celebration.

In Juneteenth Jamboree, Cassandra gradually learns the significance of the historic celebration and how the parades, dances, and picnic bring all the community together. Publishers Weekly said the book’s “enthusiastic text allows readers to discover–and celebrate–the holiday along with Cassandra.”

Weatherford has authored over 40 books, including Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, which won a Caldecott Honor Medal. Her books counter racist stereotypes and celebrate the African-American freedom struggle. She is a longtime professor of English at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina.

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Jack Yates

Jack Yates

As one of the most important community leaders in Texas after the Civil War, pastor and educator John Henry “Jack” Yates was instrumental in establishing some of the most important places and institutions in Houston, including Freedman’s Town, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, Texas Southern University, and Juneteenth’s Emancipation Park.

Born into slavery in 1828 in Virginia, Yates and his family moved to Houston after slavery’s end in Texas in 1865. Within five years he had saved enough money to purchase his own house and several lots nearby. In 1872, Yates and other Freedman residents – Elias Dibble, Richard Allen and Richard Brock – purchased 10 acres of land for $800 and named it Emancipation Park, to honor their newly received freedom and to serve as a place to celebrate Juneteenth with their families. Today Emancipation Park is recognized as the oldest public park in Texas. The park still continues to host on its hallowed grounds the city’s annual celebration of Juneteenth.

After his death in December 1897, Yates's legacy also lived on through his family; many of his 12 children and their offspring remained in Texas and became prominent community leaders in their own right.

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Annette Gordon-Reed

Annette Gordon-Reed

Historian Annette Gordon-Reed is a Harvard University professor and author of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize–winning book The Hemingses of Monticello. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she earned both the National Humanities Medal and the MacArthur Genius Grant Fellowship in 2010.

Gordon-Reed grew up in Livingston, Texas, and is the descendant of enslaved people brought to the state in the 1820s. She wrote On Juneteenth, which was named one of the New York Times’ best books of 2021. It traces the sweeping story of Juneteenth’s importance to American history and the integral role of African-Americans in Texas’ history. Her book recounts Juneteenth’s origins in 1860s Texas and the enormous hardships that African-Americans have endured from Reconstruction, through Jim Crow, and beyond.

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Official Juneteenth Poem

We rose

By Kristina Kay. “We Rose”. ©1996. Web

Skills of art, life, beauty and family
Crushed by forces we knew nothing of, we rose

Survive we must, we did,
We rose

We rose to be you, we rose to be me,
Above everything expected, we rose

To become the knowledge we never knew,
We rose

Dream, we did
Act we must

Juneteenth Events

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Juneteenth Fact Sheet - compiled by the Congressional Research Service

Recommended Reads

Music Playlist on Freegal

Juneteenth Freegal Playlist

Celebrate freedom and Black excellence with a mixtape by PGCMLS staff ft. Billie Holliday, Sam Cooke, Solange, Digable Planets, and many more! Stream it for free with your library card on Freegal.

View some of the songs in the playlist below. Click to view the entire playlist


Kanopy Videos


Kanopy is an online video streaming platform with 26,000 movies, doh2cumentaries, and indie and foreign films from over hundreds of producers including The Criterion Collection, The Great Courses, Kino Lorber, PBS, and thousands of independent filmmakers. Users are limited to 10 videos streamed every month.

Movies and TV



Celebrate Black history and learn about are online resources by joining us for a Juneteenth time travel mystery.  Click here to begin.

Juneteenth Timeline



Black slaves are smuggled through the Texas port of Galveston.


Mexico adopts a constitution freeing the slaves within its borders, including Texas, but American settlers in Texas continue to hold slaves.




The Texas Revolution erupts against Mexico and leads to the formation of the independent Republic of Texas.

December 29, 1845

Texas enters the Union as the 28th state; it is admitted as a slave state.



February 1861

Texas becomes the seventh state to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy.

January 1, 1863

President Abraham Lincoln read the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in the United States.



May 1865

Soldiers from the 62nd United States Colored Troops are involved in the last military skirmish of the Civil War at White's Ranch in Texas.

June 19, 1865

First Juneteenth. Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger of the Union Army rode into Galveston, Texas, to announce (belatedly) the emancipation of African slaves.



January 1, 1980

Juneteenth became an official holiday in Texas

June 19, 2020

Maryland Governor, Larry Hogan (R), issues a proclamation recognizing Juneteenth as an Official State Holiday to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.



June 19, 2021

US President Joe Biden officially makes June 19th - Juneteenth a national holiday.

Work Cited:

Juneteenth/ African American History in Texas Timeline

Jones, H. J. (2020). Texas Timeline. In The American Mosaic: The African American Experience. Retrieved from

Brooks, C. (2020). Juneteenth. In The American Mosaic: The African American Experience. Retrieved from