Juneteenth Explained: Remembrance and Revival

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.



Encore Presentation

(Includes Live Professor Q & A!)


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.


Professor Hill’s Recommended 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.



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?





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Peter Kahn

Great lecture Can’t wait for the next one.

3 months ago
Marc Tanenbaum

Understanding Juneteenth

Professor Hill did a wonderful job of explaining the origins and development of Juneteenth. Very helpful. His subsequent Q&A was on point as well. Thank you, Professor Hill.

3 months ago
Mary Dolan

Learning Never Ends

Thank you Prof. Hill. As an 88 year old American woman, I learned so much from your lecture about Juneteenth and why I should celebrate it. I was born in Chicago and attended public high school and seemingly missed so much. I am grateful to have professors like you to help fill the gaps. The more I know, the more I realize I don’t know.

2 months ago
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