Books to Read for Juneteenth

Juneteenth celebrates June 19, 1865. This was the day when enslaved people in Texas and other Confederate states were informed of their freedom. This happened more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln.

Here are a few books that will offer insight on this important holiday and how it relates to ongoing protests against systemic racism in the US.

  • Chokehold: Policing Black Men by Paul Butler

Chokehold: Policing Black Men is a 2017 non-fiction book by Paul Butler. The book makes the case that the criminal justice system is predicated on being unjust and that criminalizing black people is at the heart of that injustice.

  • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism is a 2018 non-fiction book written by Robin DiAngelo. The book, “allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to ‘bad people.'” White fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence.

  • My Face is Black is True by Mary Frances Berry

This book talks about the long history of reparations for African people and how Juneteenth becomes this ‘Now what?’ moment. It talks about what happens after freedom, what it means, and touches on issues of reparations, personal compensation, and reconciliation.

  • The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton

The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales is a 1985 collection of twenty-four folktales retold by Virginia Hamilton and illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. This book is a vital read for Juneteenth because it addresses collective memory and the reclamation of identity through the lens of folklore.


  • Juneteenth for Mazie, by Floyd Cooper

This book is a great way to teach children all about Juneteenth. In Juneteenth for Mazie, author Floyd Cooper touches upon conditions in slavery, emancipation, and the historical significance of Juneteenth as a holiday, as told from a father to his daughter.

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