Blog by: Melissa Santosa, Social Justice Services
Why do we Remember the First Juneteenth?
As we celebrate Juneteenth today as a federal holiday, it’s critical to look back at the holiday’s origins and its first celebrations. Juneteenth marks the date of June 19, 1865, when General Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3 which enforced the Emancipation Proclamation and proclaimed that enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas were free.
The first Juneteenth celebrations were held mostly within the state of Texas and in churches and other public spaces in African American communities. Now, 158 years later, Juneteenth is a federal holiday with large celebrations around the country. It has come to symbolize past and present pursuits for freedom and equity for African Americans.
Learn more about the meaning of Juneteenth and the ending of slavery with this animated TedEd lesson by Karlos K. Hill and Soraya Field Fioro. What is Juneteenth, and why is it important?
Hear from historian and author, Annette Gordon-Reed discuss the meaning of Juneteenth and Emancipation as a series of events and an ongoing process for full citizenship and equity for Black Americans. Juneteenth with Author, Annette Gordon-Reed
What do the Symbols in the Juneteenth Flag Mean?
Symbols are an important way to capture a pivotal moment in history and keep its meaning alive. In 1997, Ben Haith with the help of Lisa Jeanne Graf, designed a flag to commemorate the Juneteenth holiday. The star at the flag’s center represents both freedom and the state of Texas. The burst around the star is meant to look like a nova, or new star, and symbolizes a new beginning for freed African Americans. Reminiscent of the American flag with its use of red, white, and blue, Haith says the colors symbolize a “continuous commitment of people in the United States to do better – and to live up to the American ideal of liberty and justice for all.” Juneteenth flag meaning: Here's what the symbols and colors represent
Juneteenth at Alameda County Library
Celebrate Juneteenth at AC Library with events, giveaways, and recommended book lists. Please note that all library locations will be closed for the holiday on Monday, June 19.
- Free Juneteenth books and giveaways at all locations
- Juneteenth Storytime with Mrs. Jean Ficklin
- Juneteenth: The History of Reconstruction and the Celebration of Emancipation
- Movies at the Albany Library – John Lewis: Good Trouble
- Celebrating Juneteenth in July: A Sort of Jubilee Celebrating Juneteenth in July: A Sort of Jubilee
- Check out this nonfiction book list for adults
Each of the books in this list gives its own specific take on the value and importance of foodways, farming, and culinary traditions to Black culture. Explore delicious recipes, thought-provoking essays, vibrant photography, and food history within these titles.
Celebrate Juneteenth in Alameda County!
Participate in these local Juneteenth celebrations of Juneteenth around Alameda County. Follow the links below for more information.
- Berkeley Juneteenth Festival - Celebrate African American art, culture, and history during Juneteenth Week in Berkeley from June 11 to June 18.
- Hayward Juneteenth Street Party - Celebrate in Hayward on Thursday, June 15 at a street festival featuring musical performances, a family-fun zone, food, and a classic car show.
- Salsa ‘N’ Skate Juneteenth Fusion Celebration - Revel in Afro-Latin vibes with skating and dancing at Liberation Park on Friday, June 16.
- Fam Bam Oakland's 14th Annual Juneteenth Festival - Attend a family-friendly celebration at Lake Merritt on Saturday, June 17.
- Hayward Russell City Juneteenth Celebration - Enjoy live Blues, Jazz, R&B, and Gospel Music in downtown Hayward on Saturday, June 17.
- Albany Juneteenth Celebration - Enjoy live music, food vendors, a craft fair, and more on Sunday, June 18 at the Albany Juneteenth Celebration.
- East Bay Parks Celebrating Juneteenth - Take part in a Free Park Day on Sunday, June 18 to celebrate Juneteenth in the outdoors.
- OAKLAND 16th Annual Juneteenth Bay Area Close-Out Celebration - Attend a free street festival on Saturday, June 24 with live performances, a cultural exhibition, games, a fashion show, and more.