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Juneteenth Explaines

Understanding Juneteenth

June 14, 2023

Understanding Juneteenth

Ask students: What lessons about equality and justice can we learn from Juneteenth? What actions can we take to promote equality and social justice in our own lives, inspired by the spirit of Juneteenth?


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Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, marks a pivotal moment in American history.

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Lincoln in 1863, but not all enslaved people in the Southern states were freed right away. The states that were still controlled by the Confederate soldiers didn't follow the proclamation. One of those states was Texas, the westernmost state in the Confederacy. The enslaved people in Texas would not be freed for much longer.

Finally, on June 19, 1865, approximately 2,000 Union soldiers arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. They told the more than 250,000 enslaved Black people they were freed! This day became known as “Juneteenth.” The day reminds us of the struggles and hardships that people faced during slavery and the importance of treating everyone with fairness and respect.

Juneteenth marks our country’s second Independence Day. Although it has long been celebrated in the African American community, on June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden officially made Juneteenth a federal holiday.

As educators, it is crucial to recognize and celebrate Juneteenth, not only to honor this pivotal moment but also to educate and empower our students with a deeper understanding of slavery and the struggle for freedom and equality.

The Importance of Juneteenth

Juneteenth represents even more than the liberation of enslaved people; it symbolizes the resilience, strength and determination of African Americans throughout history. Encourage students to reflect on the struggles faced by enslaved individuals, the challenges they encountered during their pursuit of freedom, and the significant achievements they made despite adversity.

Encouraging Reflection and Discussion

Create a safe and inclusive space for students to reflect on the meaning of freedom, equality and social justice. Engage in open discussions about the progress made since Juneteenth and the challenges that still exist today. Explore connections between historical events and current social issues to foster critical thinking and empathy among students.

Juneteenth Explained

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Questions for Discussion

  • What lessons about equality and justice can we learn from Juneteenth?
  • What actions can we take to promote equality and social justice in our own lives, inspired by the spirit of Juneteenth?
  • What are some connections between Juneteenth and other important historical events or movements, such as the civil rights movement?

Happy Juneteenth!

Check out and learn more at UntoldEdu History Channel on YouTube, and follow up on Instagram and Twitter @UntoldEdu.

More Resources on Teaching Juneteenth

With this collection of Juneteenth teaching resources, you will find lesson plans, activities and other materials to help educate and engage students in learning about the Reconstruction era history and politics surrounding the Juneteenth holiday, and the role Black joy plays in celebrating this heritage.

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