The art and historical legacy of Juneteenth

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Juneteenth Rally. Local faith leaders, city leaders and citizens meet downtown to celebrate the anniversary of Juneteenth and the Black Lives Matter movement in Grant Park, Chicago on June 19, 2020. Photo by Antwon McMullen/Shutterstock.

For African Americans, June 19 (Juneteenth) is both a celebration of freedom and an occasion of somber remembrance. It marks the day in 1865 when enslaved African Americans in Texas learned that they were free — two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. Until recently, only a handful of states, including Texas, have acknowledged June 19 as a historical date that’s just as significant as Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Independence Day. How should we embrace and celebrate America’s not so glorious past, and could Juneteenth change the way we think about our nation? 

Artist and poet Sybil Roberts Williams shares her way of celebrating Juneteenth and why the arts are so important in shaping the future self-identification of African Americans. We also talk about how Black people still need to be fully acknowledged in U.S. history books — with University of Texas history professor Austin Peniel Joseph.



Andrea Brody