Celebrations & Commemorations on Juneteenth

Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, is celebrated every year on June 19th.

After President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had became official January 1, 1863 and called for the immediate liberation of all enslaved people, it took nearly two and a half years for the news to finally reach Texas. On June 191865 the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas and finally delivered the news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. However, even following the announcement, or what is known as Order Number 3, there was still confusion and peril for many enslaved people.

Set against this uncertainty and violence, the newly “freed” black men and women of Texas and the Freedmen’s Bureau fought for what is now known as Juneteenth. Through grassroots efforts, they transformed June 19th from a day of unheeded military orders into Juneteenth, and the first annual celebration began one year later in 1866. In 2020, Juneteenth was officially designated as a state holiday in New York and in 2021 President Biden signed a law making Juneteenth the first new federal holiday in decades.

Check out the videos, activities and curated list of local events below to learn about the history and impact of Juneteenth and to celebrate it with your family today!

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Learn About Juneteenth

How Juneteenth (and Other Celebrations) Can Be Meaningful For Your Family

Grades PreK-3
What does it mean for us to celebrate Juneteenth? By looking more closely at all the cultural rituals and traditions that families honor we can find deeper purpose in each.

Talking With Children About Keyshawn Solves It and Juneteenth

Grades K-3
In the podcast “Keyshawn Solves It,” Keyshawn’s community needs his help to save the Juneteenth bike parade. As Keyshawn solves the bicycle mystery, he learns about the history of Juneteenth. The podcast highlights ways parents and caregivers can talk about family heritage and culture, community issues, and everyday challenges.

14 Books for Celebrating Juneteenth

Grades K-5
For families with young children, books can be a great start for important conversations about understanding the history and traditions of Juneteenth.

The History and Impact of Juneteenth | Juneteenth: Faith & Freedom

Grades 6-12
Learn about the history of Juneteenth, which marked the end of slavery in Texas in 1865, through conversations with descendants and clips from the documentary, Juneteenth: Faith & Freedom.

Juneteenth Jamboree History

Grades 9-12
From the long-running Austin PBS annual program Juneteenth Jamboree, this clip features historian Harrison Eppright as he traces a timeline starting with Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865. It took several months for the news of the end of the Civil War to reach Texas. US Major General Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston Bay on June 19, 1865 to take control of the state and declare all slaves in Texas free under the Emancipation Proclamation – the first Juneteenth. While no longer slaves, African Americans continued to be denied citizens’ rights for the next 100 years.

Why Are Cookouts So Important For Black Joy? | Trial & Tribulation

Grades 9-12
Local voices of the black community in Minnesota explain the importance and power of moments of Black joy, from family cookouts and church barbecues to community celebrations such as St. Paul’s Rondo Days, to celebrating National Holidays like Juneteenth. What makes community gatherings so necessary for Black joy?

Local Events & Celebrations

Potsdam Community-Wide Juneteenth Celebration

The fifth annual Potsdam community-wide Juneteenth Celebration will be held on Saturday, June 22nd, 4-8 PM, at the Ives Park Gazebo in Potsdam, New York. Open to the public, this free cultural event will feature brief historical presentations, a catered heritage-rich meal, music, dancing, art, and a Black Is Beautiful Fashion Show.

Colors of Freedom Tour: A North Country Juneteenth Celebration

On June 22nd at 9 AM, the “Colors of Freedom” tour will feature stops in Keeseville, Peru, and Lake Placid, NY featuring re-enactors, educational presentations, and celebrations of the freedom spirit in Clinton and Essex counties. Beginning at the North Star Underground Railroad Museum and ending at John Brown Farm State Historic Site, highlights of the tour will include a historical portion, barbecue, and author’s talk by Amy Godine on her book, “The Black Woods: Pursuing Racial Justice on the Adirondack Frontier.” The charge is $10 per person, $20 for a family pass, and preregistration is required.

Watch & Wonder Programs

Check out the Mountain Lake PBS Watch & Wonder block, weekdays from 1-3pm! In honor of Juneteenth, join us as we celebrate and learn about the history of this important holiday and Black culture in America with special programs in June.

Monday,June 17

1 PM: Canfield Roots: Episode 1

Canfield Roots shares the history of some of the Black families who lived and thrived in a small rural town in Southern Ontario. It follows present-day descendants in Canada and the U.S. as they learn about their family history, share their early experiences, and fight to preserve the Street cemetery, now the focus of a restoration project. In the series’ first episode, we meet Bill Douglas, a native of Canfield for most of his life, who is surprised when local historians reveal his family’s role in Canfield’s history of Black ancestry.

1:30 PM: Canfield Roots: Episode 2

As Bill Douglas visits the BME Church Salem Chapel in St. Catharines to learn more about freedom seekers in Ontario his sister Betty Ann confronts her memories of Canfield. Outside the village an abandoned family cemetery containing the grave site of Harriet Tubman’s niece attracts the attention of local historians.

2 PM: Searching for Timbuctoo

Searching for Timbuctoo tells the little-known story of a Black settlement, established in the wilds of upstate New York, that brought together a group of ardent abolitionists willing to risk their fortunes, their families, and their futures to destroy slavery. Little did they know that by coming together, they would help tear the nation apart.

Tuesday, June 18

1 PM: Canfield Roots: Episode 3

On a cloudless February night in 1953, former Canfield resident Harry Lee was hung for murder in Hamilton, the last man to to be executed at that city’s notorious Barton Jail. Seventy years later, former residents of Canfield reflects on the impact of Lee’s hanging on the village community while Betty Ann Newman grapples with the memory of the man she called Uncle Harry.

1:30 PM: Canfield Roots: Episode 4

An estate sale in Houston, Texas leads a collector to research an artist with a connection to an abandoned family cemetery in Canfield. As more details rise to the surface, an ancestor of Harriet Tubman’s niece shares her family’s remarkable story and link to this cemetery as well.

2 PM: The Long Shadow

When a daughter of the South, director Frances Causey, set out to find causes for the continuing racial divisions in the United States, she discovers that the politics of slavery didn’t end after the Civil War. In an astonishingly candid look at the history of anti-black racism in the United States, “The Long Shadow” traces the imposition of white privilege and its ultimate manifestation: slavery.

Wednesday,June 19

1 PM: Canfield Roots: Episode 5

Frustrated over delays, a group of residents and descendants meet to discuss what to do over an abandoned family cemetery in Canfield, the final resting place of freedom seekers who settled in Canada in the mid-1800s.

1:30 PM: Canfield Roots: Episode 6

As descendants of freedom seekers gather at an abandoned family cemetery to mark Emancipation Day, they reflect on the struggles and successes of their ancestors. In Spokane, Washington Betty Ann Newman shares the stories and photos of her family in Canfield with her grandchildren.

2 PM: Juneteenth: Faith & Freedom

Juneteenth: Faith & Freedom is an unscripted documentary that invites viewers into the story of Juneteenth—the holiday recognizing the end of legalized slavery in Texas—through the eyes of a Black man learning about the holiday from the direct descendants of those liberated. The story serves as a parable that offers hope and the insight that faith can be the greatest weapon against injustice.