Juneteenth @ 150 + — In Lawrence, KS and Beyond

Summer 2015 marked the 150th anniversary of the realization among the last enslaved people in America that they were now free under the terms of the Emancipation Proclamation. On June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, two months after the official end of the Civil War, General Gordon Granger, commander of the occupying troops in Texas and Oklahoma, read the Declaration aloud to those gathered. When the news of the emancipation spread among the newly freed, they responded with joy and celebration.

June 19th became an annual day of celebration of the end of slavery, and eventually became popular throughout the nation, as black Texans migrated throughout the United States in the decades after Emancipation. The term “Juneteenth” is a Black English Vernacular contraction of two words, June and nineteenth.

This annual festival of freedom continues to celebrate the end of slavery in America. Like other cities it served as the catalyst for the 150th anniversary commemoration event held in June 2015 by the local NAACP chapter in Lawrence, Kansas, with the cooperation of The Freedoms’ Frontier National Heritage Project, the Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas, the Watkins Museum of History, the City of Lawrence, and the Project on the History of Black Writing.

The Lawrence, Kansas Juneteenth History exhibit consists of 5 standing panels featuring images and text depicting the lives of African Americans in the era following the Civil War. The exhibit is being offered again this year, 2016, by the Watkins Museum of History in Lawrence, as a courtesy reminder of our collective past. Stop by and dedicate 30 minutes of your time to celebrate Juneteenth with us. You may learn something new!

We encourage you to share your stories on Juneteenth! Tweet #JuneteenthinLawrence @ProjectHBW.

[Tamara Cash, Exhibit Designer]

Tamara Cash is a native of CoffeyvilIe, KS. She is a KU alum with undergraduate and graduate degrees in education. Cash completed a PhD in 2006. She is a retired school psychologist, currently consulting in K-12 education. She also serves on the boards of several community organizations with a focus on eldercare/senior issues. In addition, Cash has a special interest in matters of cultural equity and African-American history.


Please consult the list below for educational resources on the history of Juneteenth:

“Juneteenth” at The Handbook of Texas Online, run by the Texas State Historical Association
“History of Juneteenth” at www.juneteenth.com
“Juneteenth: The Joy of Freedom” at www.ushistoryscene.com

Cultural resources on Juneteenth through the African American Lectionary

Many additional resources are available through the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation

Final Freedom: The Civil War, the Abolition of Slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment by Michael Vorenberg

Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison

Children’s books

Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford 

Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper
Juneteenth by Micheaux and Drew Nelson

[Lists compiled by Project HBW staff Mona Ahmed and Matthew Broussard.]