What Do You Know About Juneteenth?

Juneteenth, the holiday celebrated on June 19, is a special time to celebrate freedom! Here is some history behind the Juneteenth Celebration and some local events.

In 1861, America went to war over slavery. It was called the Civil War. What we now know as the Confederate States, seceded from the Union, one by one, in protest to the call to end slavery. Those states were Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, and later, Missouri and Kentucky.

By January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation. It declared all enslaved people were free in the Confederate states that rebelled against the Union. In 1865, after a long war and many lives lost on both the Union and Confederate sides of the war, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered. Up until that time Texas continued slavery.

In June of that year, Union Troops headed by Major General Gordon Granger marched into Galveston, Texas to read General Order Number 3, declaring that all the enslaved persons were free. That declaration freed the remaining 250,000 enslaved persons.

Since then many African Americans have celebrated that day the day of freedom. That celebration takes many forms. It’s a time to learn about African American history and culture, celebrate family, have religious ceremonies, and celebrate with cultural food, music and dance. Many celebrate with parades and street fairs.

2020 Local Celebrations

Topeka has celebrated Juneteenth for many years. Due to COVID-19 the in-person Topeka Family and Friends Juneteenth Celebration that usually draws more than 1,000 people, has been canceled. However, there will be many opportunities to celebrate both online and in smaller groups.

Juneteenth Videos from Community Members | June 15-20, 2020
Watch video clips of community members answering Juneteenth questions.

Juneteenth Caravan | June 19, 2020 | Noon-1pm
Decorate your car and join the Juneteenth Caravan from the Brown vs Board National Historic Site to Hillcrest Community Center.

Issues in the Black Community Then and Now | June 19, 2020 | 5:00-7pm
Join the library, in conjunction with AARP, Topeka Family and Friends Juneteenth Celebration Committee and Greater Topeka Partnership for a Facebook Live Community Conversation. Guest speakers include Dean Carla Pratt, Janel Johnson, Dr. Beryl New, and Lazone Grays. Following the conversation enjoy music with the Ric Barron Band.

Juneteenth Trivia Contest | June 15-21 | Complete form below the booklist or pick up a printed entry form at the library.

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Juneteenth Trivia Contest on Black History

Answer the trivia questions below and submit this form by June 21. Starting July 1, we’ll draw names for prizes! Everyone who completes the trivia contest will receive at least one prize. We’ll contact you to let you know what prize you’ve won and when you can pick it up!

Sherri Camp

As a veteran genealogist, I love teaching and sharing digital family history and genealogy techniques and helping people solve genealogy problems. Being the Genealogy Librarian at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library is so much fun! I work to promote a greater knowledge of family, history, and heritage.