Happy Juneteenth! Short for “June Nineteenth,” this annual United States holiday marks the day on June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the end of slavery, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth recently became a federal holiday in 2021, following the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act.
Did you know that Tallahassee holds a fascinating distinction? It’s the first city in Florida to hear a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation on May 20, 1865— preceding Juneteenth, when the remainder of the nation recognized that all enslaved persons were emancipated, by a month.
Tallahassee pays homage to its rich African American heritage and culture year-round, embracing its historical significance through captivating museums, boycotts, and serving as the sole stop in Florida on the esteemed National Blues Trail. In light of this monumental holiday, we will explore various resources related to Juneteenth and African-American history, ranging from local events and organizations in Tallahassee to noteworthy books and movies that shed light on this pivotal chapter in American history.
Explore our community and campus
- Tallahassee-Leon County Civil Rights Heritage Walk: Immerse yourself in a profound journey through history with the Tallahassee-Leon County Civil Rights Heritage Walk. Spanning just half a block, this remarkable sidewalk memorial tells the story of several significant events, including the city’s bus boycott of 1956 and the lunch counter sit-in demonstrations of the early 60s. Adorned with 16 intricately designed terrazzo panels, this tribute honors the names of local Civil Rights leaders and activists who played a pivotal role in these protests. Explore this landmark located at the corner of East Jefferson Street and Monroe Street.
- Visit the John Gilmore Riley Center/Museum: Delve deeper into African American history and culture by discovering the vibrant legacy of Smokey Hollow, a thriving black neighborhood that once flourished just east of downtown Tallahassee. Since its establishment in 1996, this remarkable museum has been dedicated to fostering awareness illuminating the contributions made by African Americans to Florida’s history. Check out the Riley Museum here!
- Support the Black Student Union: The Black Student Union (BSU) here at Florida State University fosters unity among Black students and promotes awareness of issues pertaining to Black culture throughout the entire university community by actively organizing and participating in political, academic, and cultural activities. They host numerous events throughout the year, stay connected with BSU through their website and social media platforms for updates on what they’re up to!
Dive into the pages of a book
- The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson: This award-winning book chronicles the Great Migration of African Americans from the rural South to urban areas in the North and West. Through compelling narratives, Wilkerson captures the struggles, aspirations, and hopes of those who sought a better life and opportunities away from the Jim Crow South. The Warmth of Other Suns is available online through FSU Libraries, or purchase a copy here.
- Juneteenth: A Novel by Ralph Ellison: Written by the renowned African American author of “Invisible Man,” this posthumously published novel delves into the complexities of racial identity, redemption, and the enduring legacy of slavery. You can request Juneteenth through UBorrow, or buy it here.
Or, treat yourself to a movie!
- 13th (2016): Directed by Ava DuVernay, this thought-provoking documentary explores the the history of racial inequality and mass incarceration in the United States. The title refers to the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery but included a clause that allowed for the involuntary servitude of convicted criminals. The film examines the deep-rooted connections between slavery, racism, and the modern-day prison industrial complex, shedding light on systemic injustices and raising important questions about the criminal justice system’s impact on marginalized communities. 13th is available to watch for free on YouTube.
- Selma (2014): Depicting the historic Selma to Montgomery marches led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement, the film focuses on the struggle for equal voting rights for African Americans in the face of violent opposition and systemic racism. Selma serves as a reminder of the continued fight for justice and equality that Juneteenth symbolizes. Request the DVD from Strozier, or stream through Paramount+.
Whether by exploring local resources, engaging with thought-provoking literature, or watching impactful films, we can deepen our understanding of this significant holiday. Let us embrace Juneteenth as a time for celebration, education, and solidarity, supporting and uplifting Black voices within our communities!
This post was written by Kaylan Williams, Student Engagement Assistant at FSU Libraries.