Young readers will be captivated by this Who Was biography about the life and times of Maya Angelou.
Grand County Library District/Courtesy image

Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth National Independence Day, is the oldest African American holiday that celebrates the emancipation of slaves in the United States.

National Independence Day originated in Texas in 1865, two and a half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Union General Gordon Granger was unable to make the long journey to Texas. Finally, on June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, Granger declared that all those enslaved were to be freed from bondage.

Yet, National Independence Day only became a U.S. Federal holiday in 2021, when President Biden signed it into law. On the day of declaration, President Biden stated, “But it is a day that also reminds us of our incredible capacity to heal, hope, and emerge from our darkest moments with purpose and resolve.” While all fifty states recognize National Independence Day, as of this writing, only 22 observe it as a permanent paid state holiday, including Colorado.

Juneteenth is a day of celebration and remembrance to reflect on African Americans’ struggles throughout history, celebrate achievements and to promote diversity and inclusion. This is an opportunity to help build a stronger community, a chance to bring people together and foster a sense of connection and belonging.

Adrian Miller’s book will entice the taste buds while filling readers with interesting history, stories, and recipes.
Grand County Library District/Courtesy image

Whether you celebrate National Independence Day with picnics, parades, classes and other community events or opt for something more private, Grand County Library District has a multitude of resources to help you plan.

  • Published this year by Pulitzer Prize finalist, Percival Everett, “James” is an action-packed retelling of “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” but from the perspective of the enslaved Jim.
  • Read any of Adrian Miller’s non-fiction books. His newest book, “Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue,” will entice your taste buds while filling you with interesting history, stories and recipes.
  • Treat yourself to some musical joy. Grand County Blues Society is celebrating the 21st annual Blues from the Top Music Festival, June 28-30. The blues society has been generous to the library district, donating musical instruments to be checked out.
  • The blues genre is associated with formerly enslaved African Americans and their descendants. The music tends to be filled with expression, usually leaning to melancholic songs that speak to souls. Visit any library location or the online catalog to peruse the selection of blues albums, digital blues albums through Hoopla and e-videos on Kanopy. Patrons can enjoy or cry with talented artists such as Robert Johnson, a.k.a. the King of Delta Blues. For those looking for a more rock’n roll and blues mix check out Muddy Waters or Miles Davis.
  • Search “Juneteenth” in the district’s online catalog. Popular titles include “Juneteenth: Freedom Day,” a DVD for all ages; “On Juneteenth” by Annette Gordon-Reed; “Miss Juneteenth,” an e-video on Kanopy; “How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America” by Clint Smith; and “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson.

Of course, Grand County Library District has plenty of books by Maya Angelou. Juneteenth is the perfect day to ponder her well-known quote: “The truth is, no one of us can be free until everybody is free.”