Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond.

Today Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics, and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement, and for planning the future. Its growing popularity signifies a level of maturity and dignity in America long overdue. In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities, and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today. Sensitized to the conditions and experiences of others, only then can we make significant and lasting improvements in our society.

To learn more about Juneteenth, visit www.juneteenth.com

As our next AECA president, Shaneil ‘PJ’ Yarbrough so wisely says, “As we learn to identify and address our personal biases, we can increase cultural competence. We will reject stereotypes, build meaningful relationships, and offer support to Black children and their families in the following ways:

Become knowledgeable about the challenges that Blacks face
Reflect on personal perceptions of Black children and their families
Put negative assumptions based on race aside
Make Black children and their families feel welcomed, not watched
Provide genuine opportunities for Black children to achieve at high levels”

As agents of change, we implore you to continue to explore racism in the early childhood classroom with this top 10 list of early reader books from Indyschild.com (there are books for older readers at this link too, including adults!):

The Undefeated Written by Kwame Alexander; Illustrated Kadir Nelson

Black Is a Rainbow Color Written by Angela Joy; Illustrated by Ekua Holmes

Saturday Written and illustrated by Oge Mora

Hair Love Written by Matthew A. Cherry; Illustrated by Vashti Harrison

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice Written by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, Ann Hazzard; Illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin

My Hair is a Garden Written and illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Méndez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation Written by Duncan Tonatiuh

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga Written by Traci Sorell; Illustrated by Frané Lessac

Sulwe Written by Lupita Nyong’o; Illustrated by Vashti Harrison

Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up To Become Malcolm X Written by Ilyasah Shabazz; Illustrated by A.G. Ford

Which books have you already read? Which are you excited to share? Do you have any more recommendations? Let us know and let’s keep the conversation going! Remember that we also have a huge list of resources over on our Diversity page here.

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