Juneteenth: A Day of Remembrance and Reflection

By Hirsh Library staff on June 13, 2024

The idea of freedom is complicated for many Americans, with Frederick Douglass famously asking “What, to the American Slave, is your 4th of July?” in 1852. Many see slavery as ending with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. However, it took nearly two and a half years for word to travel around the country. In Galveston, Texas, enslaved people did not learn of their freedom and the end of the Civil War until June 19th, 1865, when the Union Army arrived. Though many Black Americans have celebrated Juneteenth annually since then, it is only more recently being recognized as an official public holiday on a larger scale, becoming a federal holiday in 2021. 


In honor of Juneteenth, Hirsh Health Sciences Library Service Desk will be closed on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Building hours remain the same. The desk will reopen on Thursday, June 20th at 7:45am.


Additionally, Tufts will be holding space for remembrance and reflection at a Juneteenth hybrid event from 12 – 2:30pm on Tuesday, June 20th in Breed Memorial Hall. The day will include lunch catered by Black-owned businesses, a musical performance, and a conversation with special guest Dr. Christina Greer, J00, Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University. A community discussion will end the day for those attending in-person. Though interested in attending should please RSVP online by Friday, June 14th.  Questions can be sent to diversity@tufts.edu

Historical photo of two Black woman riding Juneteenth buggy decorated in flowers in Houston in 1908

Juneteenth Buggy 1908 via Houston Public Library Digital Archives


Even if you’re unable to attend the event Tufts has put together a Resource Guide and a Reading List. Additionally, we encourage you to spend some time learning about the history of Juneteenth with Karlos K. Hill and Soraya Field Fiorio, understanding why Juneteeth is important from the staff of the National Museum of African American History & Culture, and listening to NPR Code Switch’s podcast about Juneteenth food and its deeper meanings. 


You can also celebrate Juneteenth at one of the many events around Boston. On Saturday, June 15th, Boston’s Museum of African American History will host a Juneteenth Community Day themed “Freedom, Movement, and Migration” meant for all ages while the JFK Presidential Library & Museum is hosting a Benkadi Drum and Dance group to honor the holiday. On Juneteenth, enjoy free open house events at the Museum of Fine Arts or the Institute of Contemporary Art or enjoy Historically Black Phrases Live!, a Black culture game show featuring several notable Bostonians, presented by the Emancipator at the WBUR CitySpace.