Communications | College

Juneteenth in Historical and Cultural Context

Following President Botstein’s message declaring Friday, June 18, 2021 an official campus holiday at Bard College, the college shared further resources for those who wish to read, listen, reflect, and learn more about the historical and cultural significance of Juneteenth as a day of celebration and commemoration (to begin, see:
BPI historians Delia Mellis ’86 Director of Program and Faculty Development and Jessica Neptune ’02 Director of National Engagement have joined our colleagues in Bard’s American Studies and Africana Studies (many themselves BPI faculty) Pete L’Official, Julia Rosenbaum, Tabetha Ewing, Myra Armstead, Christian Crouch, Drew Thompson, John Ryle, and Kwame Holmes (BPI Cohort Advisor, BardBac), and added suggestions below.

Reading list

Brittney Cooper,

Du Bois, Black Reconstruction

Martha Jones’s new book, Vanguard

Steven Hahn, A Nation Under Our Feet

Litwack, Been in the Storm So Long

maybe Deborah Gray White’s Too Heavy a Load though it starts in 1894

Ida B. Wells’ autobiography, Crusade for Justice, recent edition with a foreword by Eve Ewing

Delia Mellis ’86

On defining and shaping Black freedom post-emancipation:

Tera Hunter, To ‘Joy My Freedom

Julie Saville, The Work of Reconstruction

Rebecca Scott, Degrees of Freedom

Martha Jones, Birthright Citizens

Steven Hahn, A Nation Under Our Feet

On the criminalization of Blackness post-emancipation in the field of carceral studies:

Douglass Blackmon, Slavery By Another Name

Sarah Haley, No Mercy Here

Talitha LeFlouria, Chained in Silence

Douglass Flowe, Uncontrollable Blackness

Khalil Gibran Muhammad, The Condemnation of Blackness


Daryl Michael Scott, The Scandal of Thirteenthism

Jessica Neptune ’02


Clint Smith’s just-released book of essays, How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America does a wonderful job of addressing both the historically specific, and the broader context of how slavery is and has been understood (and, more often than not, how it has been rather intentionally misunderstood).

Here’s a quick Twitter thread of the author recounting the places in which the book’s essays are rooted, one of them being Galveston, TX:

Pete L’Official


Karen Cox, No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice (just out)

Maurice O. Wallace, Shawn Michelle Smith, Pictures and Progress: Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity

John Stauffer, Zoe Trodd  and Celeste-Marie Bernier Picturing Frederick Douglass

Susan Stessin-Cohn and Ashley Hurlburt-Biagini, In Defiance: Runaways from Slavery in New York’s Hudson River Valley, 1735-1831

Julia Rosenbaum


Ralph Ellison’s posthumously published novel titled Juneteenth.

Tabetha Ewing


Annette Gordon-Reed, On Juneteenth

David Blight, A Slave No More

for children/younger readers:  Patricia C. McKissack and Frederick McKissack, Jr.,  Days of Jubilee

Myra Young Armstead 


Deborah Willis and Barbara Krauthamer, Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery

Tiya Miles, All that She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake (hot off the presses by a MacArthur winning historian)

Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham, Black Futures (recent release, multimedia and arts focused)

Alaina Roberts, I’ve Been Here all the While: Black Freedom on Native Land (another 2021 release — especially interesting thinking about post CW in the “West” in light of the Tulsa discussions)

Skip Gates’s recent PBS series “Reconstruction: America after the Civil War” (important context to think about what freedom looked like and meant in practicality)

Christian Crouch


Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: Blackness and Being

Saiyida Hartman, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments

Drew Thompson


Paul Robeson

John Ryle


Congressional testimony by remaining Tulsa survivors demanding reparations (free from Congressional grandstanding)

Also, here’s a powerful historicized memoir, “Memory, Memorials, and History” from Alisha Hines of Wake Forest University published on Black Perspectives,

Kwame Holmes





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