Atlanta History Center Celebrates Juneteenth With Virtual Programming

The 2019 celebration of Juneteenth was held at the Atlanta History Center. This is from their performance of “Freedom: Jubilee and Uncertainty” being performed at Smith Farm.

Courtesy of Atlanta History Center

Today marks a momentous occasion in African American history—Juneteenth. “Freedom Day,” as it’s also known, is an annual observance commemorating the end of enslavement.

Quick history lesson about Juneteenth:

Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865—the date that the last enslaved African Americans in the United States learned that they were free. Enslaved people learned about this in Galveston, Texas. This was two years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and two months after the war’s official end.

“City Lights” host Lois Reitzes spoke with Atlanta History Center’s VP of Historical Interpretation and Community Partnerships, Calinda Lee about the history of the holiday. She was also joined by Kate Whitman, History Center’s VP of Author Programs and Community Engagement, who discussed the Center’s Juneteenth virtual programs.

“Unfortunately this is not a story that has been well taught, although it is certainly well documented,” said Lee. Last year, CNN stated that all but four states in the United States recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or observance.

Lee continues, “Folks need to remember and attach themselves to reasons to celebrate, reasons to find joy..that’s a human need. And Juneteenth represents that for many many people.”

Some of their offerings include:

  • A reading list orchestrated by Charis Books and More. They have created a reading list for readers of all ages to enhance our understanding of the past and the significance of the Juneteenth celebration.
  • A blog post written by Dr. Calinda Lee outlining the history of Juneteenth.
  • Genealogy: Emma Davis-Hamilton in conversation with Sue VerHoef. Emma Davis-Hamilton discusses the Freedmen’s Bureau in this pre-recorded genealogy presentation. The records of the Freedmen’s Bureau are a rich resource for documenting African American life in the post-Civil War and Reconstruction eras.
  • Family Focused Fun- their animated comic, Super Spies, uses hand-drawn illustrations, historical photographs, and fantastic storytelling to explore the history of Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Van Lew, and Mary Bowser during the American Civil War. They also have an interactive map that explores some of the major battles the United States Colored Troops engaged in during the Civil War. You can also learn more about their history.
  • Plus, a Civil Rights Toolkit. Through digital storytelling, writing prompts, art activities, and supplemental interactives, this toolkit provides something for all ages. The AHC has curated content for specific grade levels that helps them learn lessons from the past in order to build a brighter future.
  • And much more..which can all be found here.