This weekend we join the nation to celebrate freedom and celebrate the 16th of June. June 16 is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. The Delaware County District Library will remain open during regular hours during this celebration, but we’re celebrating this newly introduced federal holiday throughout the month with crafts and activities at all of our branches.
In case you need a quick history refresher, Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to proclaim the freedom of more than 250,000 enslaved Texas blacks—more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln originally pronounced it had the declaration of emancipation.
June 16, also known as Freedom Day or Jubilee Day, is marked by celebrations, family reunions, picnics, and readings of the Emancipation Proclamation to mark the end of slavery in the United States. Because June 16 is a time not only for celebration, but also for reflection and education, the nation uses this day to recognize and honor the profound contributions of Black people to American history and culture.
Visit the Delaware County District Library website at www.delawarelibrary.org to download appropriate book listings for readers of all ages, find programs, and learn what other communities in central Ohio are doing to celebrate.
There are two celebrations in Delaware County this weekend. The Juneteenth Celebration is taking place today from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Blue Limestone Park at 6 King Ave. held in Delaware. Later that evening, the Unity Community Center will host a Juneteenth Gala at SourcePoint from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Each branch of the library will be making paper freedom quilts this month. As humans escaped their slavers and headed north, it was hard to know where to seek help. Stories went through travelers to find a safe home by searching for a quilt hanging from a clothesline or windowsill. The quilt blocks each had a secret meaning to explain how to travel on or what dangers to expect. Coloring sheets are available in each branch so kids can add their own quilt squares to our Library Freedom quilts.
While visiting Orange and Delaware stores, take a moment to add something to our Freedom Wall. June 16th is all about celebrating freedom, and well-wishers of all ages can help create a work of art that shows what we value about our freedom. Just grab an empty star at the exhibit and write your answer to the question “What does freedom mean to you?”. Hang your star on the wall wherever you like and take a moment to see what others have to say.
Below are some of our Juneteenth reading list book recommendations for young readers, teens and adults.
• “Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free: The True Story of the June 16 Grandmother” by Alice Faye Duncan. The true story of black activist Opal Lee and her vision for June 16th to be a holiday for everyone will inspire kids to be bold and make a difference. Growing up in Texas, Opal knew the story of June 16, but she soon discovered that most Americans had never heard of the holiday, which represents the nation’s creed of “freedom for all.”
All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson. In 1865, members of a family begin their day as slaves, working in a cotton field in Texas, and end it by celebrating their freedom on June 16th.
• “Crossing Ebenezer Creek” by Tonya Bolden. When Mariah and her little brother Zeke are suddenly freed from slavery, they embark on Sherman’s long march across Georgia during the Civil War. Mariah wants to believe that the brutalities of slavery are behind them forever and that freedom is ahead.
• “Watermelon & Red Birds: A Cookbook for Juneteenth and Black Celebrations” by Nicole A. Taylor. In 1866, the June 16 celebrations were celebrated with music, dancing, and barbecues. Taylor bridges the traditional African American table and 21st-century flavors with stories and recipes that inspire parties to welcome the holiday or help you create moments of savoring joy throughout the year.
• “Summoning Women” by Afia Atakora. A gripping story that brings to life the world of the South before and after the Civil War. Spanning eras and generations, it chronicles the lives of three unforgettable women: Miss May Belle, a wise healing woman; her precocious and perceptive daughter Rue, who is reluctant to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a midwife; and the daughter of her master Varina.
If you have a question that you would like answered in this column, send it to Nicole Fowles, Delaware County District Library, 84 E. Winter St., Delaware, OH 43015 or call us at 740-362-3861. You can also email your questions through the library’s website at www.delawarelibrary.org or directly to Nicole at [email protected] No matter how you contact us, we always look forward to your inquiry!