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Juneteenth

June 19

Juneteenth marks the emancipation of thousands of enslaved people. Though President Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863, it was not until federal troops arrived in Texas more than two years later to enforce the proclamation, on June 19, 1865, that thousands of enslaved Black men and women in that state finally gained their freedom. Slavery would not actually come to an end in several other states until after the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in December of that year. We encourage you to learn more about this complex journey to emancipation in the timeline below. Each June 19, we invite you to join us in commemorating Juneteenth.

Look Back, Look Around, Look Within, and Move Forward

Juneteenth is a time to commemorate, celebrate, educate, and reflect on the Black experience in America. By looking back, looking around, and looking within, we are challenged to evaluate the foundations of inequality and move forward together, committing ourselves to the unfinished work of eradicating systemic racism. Join us for special programming.

Read the Timeline

Juneteenth: Slavery and the struggle for Emancipation

Join Us for Special Programming

Visit Archaeological Sites

First Baptist Church Excavation Project

Custis Square Archaeology Project

COMMUNITY PROGRAMMING

The Juneteenth Community Consortium is an association of organizations in the Greater Williamsburg Area that organized with a common goal to educate, commemorate, and celebrate the end of slavery in America.

Plan Your Visit

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Learn About Juneteenth

What is Juneteenth?

Bringing the Past to Life: From Archaeologists to Actors

Why We Celebrate Juneteenth

Watch the playlist below to hear from Colonial Williamsburg President Cliff Fleet, actor interpreters, and archaeologists about why Juneteenth is important.

Juneteenth at Custis Square

Additional Reading

Virtual Tour of the Randolph Site

Exploring African American History Through Music

Resources for Understanding Race and Inequality Through History

Slavery & Remembrance

Additional Resources

Learn even more about Juneteenth by exploring these resources from both our museum and other trusted institutions.


Whether you’re looking to read up on this topic before joining the conversation, or want some further reading afterward, here’s our recommended reading.

Colonial Williamsburg Juneteenth Resources
Colonial Williamsburg has created several related web resources, including an informational What is Juneteenth? page, a calendar of Juneteenth special events  at Colonial Williamsburg, and a Juneteenth Historical Timeline that provides history and context for the commemoration.

Juneteenth Resources from other Cultural Institutions
The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture offers The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth and the Library of Congress blog offers: The Birth of Juneteenth; Voices of the Enslaved
and "Emancipation Day in South Carolina . . .," an 1863 illustration from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.

The Library of Virginia’s The Uncommonwealth blog focuses on Why Juneteenth? while PBS features What is Juneteenth? From Henry Louis Gates Jr. Additionally, the National Archives presents an online exhibit The Emancipation Proclamation that provides context on that document issued January 1, 1863.

Colonial Williamsburg Resource Library
The Resource Library provides access to numerous resources that explore relevant themes such as citizenship, civics, and government using video, lessons, and interactive web activities. The Resource Library features several relevant resources such as the When Freedom Came electronic field trip and Whose Emancipation?

Colonial Williamsburg Videos
Colonial Williamsburg’s YouTube Channel features 2020 productions Juneteenth at Custis Square and Before Juneteenth.

Further Reading
On Juneteenth. Annette Gordon-Reed.  New York, NY: Liveright Publishing Corporation, a division of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2021.

For children:

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom. Angela Johnson. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2014.

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