On June 19, 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation was read by General Gordon to Texas, the last state to free enslaved people. Known as Juneteenth, this day marks the official end of slavery in the United States.
President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation almost two years before Juneteenth on January 1, 1863. However, at the time it was issued, the proclamation only applied to places under Confederate control, excluding other areas such as border states and rebel areas under Union control. Two years later, all enslaved people were officially freed.
Texas was the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday in 1979. Today, it is recognized by many states and celebrated through parades, barbecues, and other outdoor activities.
On this Juneteenth, Wesleyan University Press celebrates old and new publications by black authors exploring the legacy of the black experience in America through poetry, essays, and historical texts. Make sure to check out the below titles to support Black authors on this holiday.