On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
"Weaving together American history, dramatic family chronicle, and searing episodes of memoir, Annette Gordon-Reed’s On Juneteenth provides a historian’s view of the country’s long road to Juneteenth, recounting both its origins in Texas and the enormous hardships that African-Americans have endured in the century since, from Reconstruction through Jim Crow and beyond. All too aware of the stories of cowboys, ranchers, and oilmen that have long dominated the lore of the Lone Star State, Gordon-Reed—herself a Texas native and the descendant of enslaved people brought to Texas as early as the 1820s—forges a new and profoundly truthful narrative of her home state, with implications for us all..." - Goodreads
This book reminded me of why Annette Gordon-Reed is one of my favorite Historians. She brings herself into the narrative only when it serves the context of the work and does so in a way that is so authentic and comforting. Juneteenth is more than a freedom holiday to her and many other Black Texans. It's about celebrating legacy and family as well as acknowledging that time has not healed all wounds.
Within this short book, Gordon-Reed takes the reader through a short history of Texas and Galveston, how Africans came to be in Texas and contemplates the way this History is remembered or not. She explains the ways in which she and her family are connected to the history of Black folks in Texas as Gordon-Reed desegregated her local school. All of this culminating into the circumstances of Juneteenth and how it is celebrated today in Texas.
This work feels personal and I'm grateful for it.
I highly recommend this book to everyone from high school and up. On Juneteenth could also work for middle and elementary schools if the educator takes sections for reviewing with students.