Library Resources for Juneteenth

Juneteenth, a celebration of the day enslaved people in Texas finally learned they were free, happens annually on June 19.

The Emancipation Proclamation, dated January 1, 1863, declared "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free." Despite that sweeping language, there were limitations that kept it from becoming reality immediately:

It applied only to states that had seceded from the United States; it expressly exempted parts of the Confederacy (the Southern secessionist states) that had already come under Northern control; and the freedom it promised depended upon Union (United States) military victory. Slaves in Texas would not learn of their freedom until June 19, 1865, when 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, to announce that the enslaved Black people in the state were free by executive decree. That day became known as Juneteenth.

Juneteenth has long been celebrated in the African American community, but was only declared a federal holiday in 2021, by President Joe Biden.

Not all states observe Juneteenth. According to Pew Research, 28 states and the District of Columbia legally recognized Juneteenth as a public holiday in 2023. Recognition as a federal holiday means that state government offices are closed and state workers have a paid day off. Kansas announced it would recognize Juneteenth as a holiday in October 2023.

Sources: National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Archives, Pew Researoch, Kansas Offifce of the Governor

Johnson County Library has a variety of resources to read, listen to, or participate in for Juneteenth. We encourage you to explore our catalog to find stories and resources that speak to you, but our Librarians have also gathered some resources for anyone interested:

Get Started with Primary Sources

Local History

  • Kansas History, Territorial through Civil War Years, 1854-1965
  • Slavery in the Free State - a history of slavery in Johnson County and Kansas
  • Redlined: Cities, Suburbs and Legislation - this exhibit takes visitors on a deep dive into the history of redlining and how it both shaped and was shaped by Johnson County and the region. Visitors will learn about the 19th and 20th century foundations of redlining, how the private practice became federal policy during the Great Depression, the expansion of the practice during postwar suburbanization, attempts to dismantle the system during the Civil Rights Era, and how the legacies of redlining continue to impact communities around the nation today.



  • Juneteenth: Nonfiction - Celebrate Juneteenth by reading newly released non-fiction titles about Black history, culture, and social issues.
  • Juneteenth: History - Although the Emancipation Proclamation to free Slaves from the Confederate States was signed in January 1863, most African Americans in Texas remained enslaved for another 2 years. Finally in June of 1865, Union Soldiers rode through Texas informing those that were still enslaved of their freedom. Celebrated on June 19th, Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated African American holiday.
  • Juneteenth for Teens & Young  Readers - A selection of books about Juneteenth for teens and young readers available from the Johnson County Library.
  • Juneteenth: National Independence Day -Here is a list of books, movies, and more arranged by age from birth to adulthood.
  • Juneteenth in Picture Books- A collection of picture books about Juneteenth, as well as the impact of slavery on the African American community.
  • The Past is Prologue: Nicodemus, Kansas - booklist about the exoduster settlement of Nicodemus, KS.
  • The Civil War: Books, Films, Music - booklist of books, music and movies about the Civil War.

Local Events: