Also known as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, and Black Independence Day in the United States, Juneteenth celebrates the freedom of some 250,000 enslaved people in Texas in 1865. Although it is not the day slavery legally ended, it is the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery in the United States.
In fact, slavery had ended in 1863 by an executive order called the Emancipation Proclamation that called for the immediate freedom of slaves throughout the country. Unfortunately, many enslaved people, especially those in the south, remained un-free. The country was in the middle of a Civil War and states like Texas which had seceded from the Union did not adhere to the Proclamation.
In 1980, Texas became the first state to adopt Juneteenth as a state holiday. Now, Juneteenth has been recognized as a national holiday, giving all Americans — not only African Americans — the opportunity to celebrate freedom and acknowledge their history.
And one great way to better understand African-American history and the institution of slavery is to watch documentaries about race and Black freedom. Here are seven Black documentaries to stream now for Juneteenth:
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of A Revolution
Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am
Time: The Kalief Browder Story
Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement