Juneteenth Explained: A Tradition of Remembrance and Revival

Karlos K. Hill – University of Oklahoma

Juneteenth History Explained

June 19, 1865 marks the day when United States Army Major General Gordon Granger informed enslaved blacks in Galveston, Texas that slavery had been abolished and that they were thenceforth free. The following year, on June 19, 1866, Galveston area freedmen celebrated the first Juneteenth Day. Today, more than forty state governments observe Juneteenth as an official state observance and an increasing number of American corporations recognize Juneteenth as a corporate holiday. In this course, Black Studies professor Karlos K. Hill will explain why initially enslaved blacks–but today millions of Americans (from different racial, regional, and economic backgrounds)–increasingly celebrate the moment when enslaved blacks in Galveston, Texas learned that they were no longer enslaved.

Juneteenth Explained – Discussion Questions:

1.)   Why is it important to remember the history of slavery and emancipation?

2.)   Why do we celebrate Juneteenth today?

3.)   Who is Juneteenth for? Is it for only black Americans, or is it open to non-Black people to participate?

4.)   Should Juneteenth be a federal holiday?

About the Professor of Juneteenth Explained

KARLOS K. HILL – UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA

Dr. Karlos K. Hill serves as Chair and Associate Professor of the Clara Luper Department of African and African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He founded the Tulsa Race Massacre Oklahoma Teachers Summer Institute to teach the history of the 1921 Race Massacre to middle and high school students. Hill has been a featured expert on Vox’s Juneteenth documentary short, as well as national media including Time, USA Today and CNN. Professor Hill is the author of three groundbreaking books: Beyond the Rope: The Impact of Lynching on Black Culture and Memory, The Murder of Emmett Till: A Graphic History, and The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: A Photographic History.

Professor Hill’s Recommended Juneteenth Explained Reading:

Juneteenth, by Ralph Ellison

On Juneteenth, by Annette Gordon-Reed

“Juneteenth, Explained,” by Fabiola Cineas https://www.vox.com/2020/6/18/21294825/history-of-juneteenth

“Why All Americans Should Celebrate Juneteenth,” by Liz Scheltens https://www.vox.com/21296075/juneteenth-emancipation-black-lives-matter

“Juneteenth Should Remind America What It Owes Black Citizens,” by Aaron Ross Coleman  https://www.vox.com/2020/6/19/21295607/juneteenth-protest-wealth-gap-race-america-what-it-owes-black-citizens.

Learn more about Juneteenth Explained 

Learn more about Juneteenth explained by visiting our online video lectures. With new five new history lectures every week, we’re constantly adding great history courses to our library. Below are some recent additions as well as some student favorites, including Was Alexander Hamilton Jewish?American Democracy: Where Are We Now, & FDR & The Evolution Of An American Ideal.