There’s a movement afoot to make Juneteenth, the annual cultural celebration also known in the African American community as Emancipation Day, a national holiday.
Currently, the day is an unofficial holiday celebrated in 47 states, and commemorates June 19th, 1865, as the date when the end of slavery reached slaves in the Southwestern States. It is important because while the Constitutional amendment of the Emancipation Proclamation was formalized in 1863, it was not until years later that freedom was extended throughout the country. The Juneteenth celebration which has been honored and upheld in Black communities for more than 150 years, originated in Galveston, Texas, and is the annual nod to celebrations that followed the reading of the proclamation by General Gordon Granger, shown below, according to (www.Juneteenth.com):
"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer."
Today, Juneteenth is celebrated in all states but three, (the Dakotas and Hawaii) and is hosted in cities across America and beyond. It is universally regarded as a time for reflection and rejoicing.
In 2020, legislation was introduced by U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and now Madame Vice President, Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) to recognize the Juneteenth National Independence Day, as a nationwide day of remembrance. Once ratified, Juneteenth would become the eleventh federal holiday.
To introduce young audiences to this important holiday, check out the book and review of the new edition of Juneteenth for Maize, by Floyd Cooper, below. For more information about the holiday and efforts to make it a national holiday, visit www.Juneteenth.com and the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation’s website at NationalJuneteenth.com.
"Juneteenth for Mazie"
Written and Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Publisher: Capstone Editions Published: 2021
ISBN: 978-1-68446-364-0 Pages: 30
Mazie is tired of waiting! She can’t play outside, have a cookie, or stay up late. She just can’t seem to do anything she wants. Instead, the word “no” seems to greet her at most every turn. But even with all of its rules, Dad reminds us, her life does not compare to that of her ancestors, especially her great-great-great-grandpa Mose, who heard “no” even more!
Juneteeth for Mazie is a book about history, freedom, and celebration. From Dad’s retelling of Mose’s struggles as an enslaved African laborer in the cotton fields of the South to the history of those who ran north to freedom following “a bright star,” to recounting her ancestor’s crossing into history on the first Liberation Day, Mazie is taught of the gains made – and those still to be made – by former enslaved Africans in America.
Author/illustrator Floyd Cooper commemorates the power of history and remembrance with a personal and resonant tale that beautifully imagines this important inflection point in our nation’s collective cultural history.
The new board book edition, originally published in 2015, depicts images that evoke the joy and celebratory spirit the Juneteenth holiday honors. Experienced through Cook’s narrative and signature artistic style, we traverse eras of change, achievement, and remembrance.
Readers savor visual vignettes of Black culture’s rich and tumultuous past, as well as the beauty and diversity of the Black community and its resilience over the ages. The warmth of the culture is brought to life through Cooper's art that captures the faces and feelings of Americans of the African Diaspora in tones of sepia, gold, and mahogany. Visages and vistas create an artistic collage that conjures a cultural pride that can be appreciated by all.
Designed as a title to help families introduce the concept and history of the Juneteenth holiday and all that it represents, Juneteeth for Mazie offers readers a gorgeous chance to feel how African American culture celebrates its steady march forward, and remember.
Valerie Williams-Sanchez, Ph.D. ~
This book was provided by Capstone Editions for Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2021 review.