If you drive past the library today, you might notice that the building is closed, but you may not know why. Today we celebrate June 16th, which took place on Sunday June 19th. The day has been celebrated in African American communities for many years, but just last year it became a federal holiday, bringing it to the attention of many Americans who were previously unfamiliar.
Many of us remember hearing about the Emancipation Proclamation when we were young: an executive order issued by then-President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, calling for the emancipation of all slaves. Unfortunately, due to the Civil War, the proclamation was severely curtailed, so it wasn’t the “end of slavery” that many believe it to be. It wasn’t until Major General of the Union Army, Gordon Granger, rode into Texas on June 19, 1865 and declared the end of slavery that over 250,000 slaves were finally freed. Even then, freedom did not come overnight for everyone, but this was the birth of the June 16 holiday.
In addition to closing for the day, the library celebrated June 16 with book displays and programs providing information about the holiday and slavery in the United States. For those who want to learn more, “On Juneteenth” is a brief but powerful overview by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian (and Texas native) Annette Gordon-Reed, in which she explores the history of black people in Texas and the long Describing the way there in detail finally led to Juneteenth. Another interesting read is Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison (of Invisible Man fame), published posthumously five years after Ellison’s death. Although the book is a novel, it offers a realistic account of the African-American experience in America, and Juneteenth plays an important thematic role. Finally, check out “Watermelon & Red Birds: A Cookbook for Juneteenth and Black Celebrations” by Nicole A. Taylor, which not only offers delicious recipes, but also includes essays and photos of June 16 celebrations and traditions.
In addition to these titles we have a number of fantastic children’s books such as What Is June 16th by Kirsti Jewel or Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper. If you’re near Wilcox Park today, swing through and watch our self-guided Juneteenth Storywalk featuring the new book, Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free, by Alice Faye Duncan. Directly behind the library you will find signs on which a double page of the book is printed. Take a short stroll with your favorite little ones (or alone!) and read about activist Opal Lee, now dubbed “Grandmother of Juneteenth”.
Most requested books
- 1. “The Hotel Nantucket” by Elin Hilderbrand
- 2. “The Summer Place” by Jennifer Weiner
- 3. “City on Fire” by Don Winslow
- 4. “Sparring Partners” by John Grisham
- 5. “The Paris Apartment” by Lucy Foley
- 6. “Fly Girl” by Ann Hood
- 7. “Book Lover” by Emily Henry
- 8. “Find Me” by Viola Davis
- 9. “The Lost Summers of Newport” by Beatriz Williams
- 10. “The 6:20 Man” by David Baldacci
The most requested DVDs
- 1. “The Beatles: Back”
- 2. “Father Stu”
- 3. “Morbius”
- 4. “The Contractor”
- 5. “Liquorice Pizza”
- 6. “The Northman”
- 7. “Worst Man Alive”
- 8. “Ambulance”
- 9. “Dog”
- 10. “Everything everywhere at once”
In this week
MONDAY — The library will be closed on June 16.
TUESDAY — 9-10 am, Yoga in the Park with Chelsea Hauck – Join us behind the pond in Wilcox Park. Participants should bring a yoga mat, towel, water bottle, and bug spray; 10:00am – 7:30pm, Crafternoon To-Go: Bug Repellent Lights – Kits are available in the reference while supplies last; 1-4pm, Community Resource Advocate – Our volunteer Community Resource Advocate is available via email at firstname.lastname@example.org; 2-3:30 p.m., Virtual Tech Social – We meet on Zoom to answer your technical questions. Pre-registration is required; 4-5pm, Summer Dungeons & Dragons Weekly – Join us at Teen Space for a teen-led Dungeons & Dragons campaign! Registration is required; 5:30-7:30pm, Knit and Crochet Club – The Knit and Crochet Group meets on the 2nd floor of the library.
WEDNESDAY — 9:30-10:00 am, Essentrics Stretch in the Park – Bring a mat, bath towel and water; 10-10:30am, Summer Family Stories – Join us in the Terrace Room for a family story hour geared towards ages from birth to 11 when accompanied by a significant other.
THURSDAY — 10am-1pm, Friends Pop-up Book Sale – Every Thursday during the summer, the Friends of the Library host a Summer Pop-up Book Sale on the Library Promenade; 3-4pm, Tween Book Club – Join us at Wilcox Park for a book club for 9-12 year olds. Registration is required; 4-5 p.m., Teen Pride in the Park – Celebrate Pride in the Park with Pompelmo Gelato and sidewalk decorating with spray chalk; 5:30-6:30 PM, Zumba in the Park – Enjoy a free Zumba class with Yvonne Brown and Tina Pagliusi; 5:30-7:30pm, Chess Club – All levels welcome; 6:00-7:30pm, Dante Society Lecture and Book Signing with Zachary Garceau – Join the author for a discussion and book signing of Great Stories from Westerly’s Past; 7-9pm, Flock Theater Presents ‘Peer Gynt’ – Bring your blankets or chairs to Wilcox Park and enjoy the Flock Theatre’s adaptation of ‘Peer Gynt’. This show runs every night from Thursday to Sunday.
FRIDAY — 9-10am, Yoga in the Park with Michael Dotolo – Join us at Wilcox Park at the back of the pond for an all-level yoga class; 5:00-5:30pm, Campfire Crafts and Storytelling – We meet at Wilcox Park by the fountain and are joined by the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center for crafts, hearing folk tales about the local wildlife and meeting a live animal.
SATURDAY — 9am-12pm, URI Master Gardener Kiosk – Get research-based answers to all your gardening questions; 10-11:30 am, Walking Tour of Wilcox Park | Native Flowers and Trees – During this tour you will learn the value of the natives and see the native perennials and trees in the park. The tour starts and ends on the Esplanade; 10:30 – 11:30 AM, Zumba in the Park – Enjoy a complimentary Zumba class at Wilcox Park.
Cassie Skobrak is Reference Librarian at Westerly Library & Wilcox Park.