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Twelve ways educators are celebrating Juneteenth with their students

June 02, 2022


What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is an annual holiday that celebrates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. On June 19, 1865, the last 250,000 enslaved Americans gained freedom when Union soldiers arrived in Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation (over two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued it).

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.” 
-General Orders, Number 3; Headquarters District of Texas, Galveston, June 19, 1865

When did Juneteenth become a holiday?

Many people are unfamiliar with Juneteenth, but African American communities have celebrated the holiday since the late 1800s. In fact, in 1872, a group of formerly enslaved African American ministers and businessmen purchased 10 acres of land in Houston to create Emancipation Park, dedicated to hosting annual Juneteenth celebrations.

Some cities across the nation host parades and festivals on Juneteenth and families come together to celebrate by having backyard BBQs. On June 17, 2021, Juneteenth became the 11th  holiday recognized by the federal government.

How are educators celebrating Juneteenth?

We asked members of DreamBox Nation – an online community of DreamBox educators – how they celebrate Juneteenth.

Focus on the meaning of the holiday

  • We will read books and talk about the importance of the holiday. It’s also the first year they have no school in honor of the holiday, so it will open the door to having great meaningful conversations. 
                – 5th Grade Teacher, Beaverton School District, Oregon 
  • I plan on teaching a little bit about the holiday’s history and why it is so important to my summer school group this year!
    – Kindergarten Teacher, Brentwood School District, California

  • I teach 4th grade Texas history. We have a whole unit dedicated to the civil war and Juneteenth. They learn the importance of it and how it is celebrated in Texas. We also had a debate on whether they thought it should be a national holiday. Most of the students argued for it to become a national holiday. 
                – 4th Grade Teacher, Plano Independent School District, Texas

Learn from one another

  • Students have the opportunity to share what holiday traditions they have and if they are going anywhere or doing anything special for all holidays. It really allows all students to share different ways they celebrate. 
                – Teacher, Upper Perklomen Middle School, Pennsylvania

  • Juneteenth is a good day on which to focus on relationships between different groups of people. I use it as a way to teach my students about how everyone is similar but yet different at the same time and how that makes us all unique. It is a good way to learn lessons from one another about how to improve ourselves. 
    – Teacher, Charleston County School District, South Carolina 
  • If I have a student in my class who will celebrate it over the summer, I invite the family in to share their tradition with our students. 
    – Instructional Coach, Settler’s Point Elementary School, Arizona


Acknowledge our nation’s history

  • We discuss Juneteenth as part of our social studies standards (American Revolution and Civil War). We read articles, books, and other texts and then have a Socratic seminar around the topic of freedom/independence and what it means to them personally. Great conversation always abounds, and it’s a great opportunity to expose them to different perspectives and points of view. 
    – Literacy Coach, LCSD1, Wyoming 

  • Since the students will be out for the summer, we will celebrate the 20th of May. The news reached the state of Florida on May 20. Then we discuss why it took so long for the information to reach Texas. We will also discuss why it’s important to discuss and celebrate cultural events of different groups.
                – Anonymous  

  • My summer school students will listen to a great book I found that explains it well. We will write about what freedoms we all have in our country. 
    – Teacher, Andrew Cooke School, Illinois

Honor African American people

  • Normally we listen to the Black National Anthem and try singing along. We will also explore the history of significant African American figures that helped us gain the freedoms we have today. 
    – Anonymous

  • We will be setting up a library display and reading books to celebrate Juneteenth!
                – Support Teacher, Winnipeg School Division, Manitoba


Many educators on DreamBox Nation also asked about resources they can use to help students learn about Juneteenth and celebrate this important day. Here is some content you may find helpful:



Educator Guides 


If you have additional ideas for how to celebrate Juneteenth or would like to participate in upcoming conversations like this one, follow us on social media or join DreamBox Nation if you’re a DreamBox customer.

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