July 28, 2021

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Five Ways to Learn About Juneteenth With The New York Times

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Students in U.S. high schools can get free digital access to The New York Times until Sept. 1, 2021.

Are you looking for ways for your students to learn more about Juneteenth? Below we offer five teaching ideas for exploring the holiday and its significance via a variety of media, including photographs, recipes, art and a podcast interview.

But before you dig into this collection of suggested activities, we also offer two brief excerpts from Derrick Bryson Taylor’s explainer article “So You Want to Learn About Juneteenth?” to provide some background on the holiday and its relevance today:

Juneteenth, an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, has been celebrated by African Americans since the late 1800s.

But in recent years, and particularly following nationwide protests over police brutality and the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other Black Americans, there is a renewed interest in the day that celebrates freedom.

The celebration continues to resonate in new ways, given the sweeping changes and widespread protests across the U.S. over the last year and following a guilty verdict in the killing of Mr. Floyd.

He then explains the origins of the holiday:

On June 19, 1865, about two months after the Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, Va., Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African Americans of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended. General Granger’s announcement put into effect the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued more than two and a half years earlier on Jan. 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln.

The holiday received its name by combining June and 19. The day is also sometimes called “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day.”

Teachers, do you already teach Juneteenth? Let us know in the comments or by writing to [email protected]

Listen to a 25-minute podcast interview with Dr. Daina Ramey Berry, a professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, in the 2020 “Daily” episode “The History and Meaning of Juneteenth.” As you listen, choose to focus on one element of the podcast:

I. History
What are the major historical events described in the podcast? Take notes as you listen and then create a timeline that tracks the original Juneteenth to celebrations today.

II. Podcasting techniques
In the beginning of the podcast, how does Dr. Berry paint a picture of the first Juneteenth? How is that picture made vivid through audio and editing techniques in the podcast? What emotions do you feel as you listen to her recount what happened? What strategies does the host employ to effectively facilitate the conversation?

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