YPL Celebrates Juneteenth

This month marks the celebration of “Juneteenth,” or June Nineteenth. Juneteenth is the day we celebrate the historical day in 1865 in which federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people were freed. 

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, which stated that all enslaved people in Confederate States in rebellion against the Union “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” 

Despite this, the arrival of troops in Galveston did not occur until an entire two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The news was delivered by Major General Gordon Granger and his Union soldiers. Upon landing in Galveston, Granger issued General Order 3, which stated:   

“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 rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”

Many freedmen decided to travel North or seek out family members in neighboring states such as Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. They nevertheless remembered where and when they were freed. Some made an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston to celebrate Juneteenth. 

Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States, and is thus considered the longest-running African American holiday. 

Yonkers Public Library recognizes and understands the significance of this holiday, and is honored to observe it alongside the Yonkers community. That being said, all three library branches will be closed Sunday, June 19 and Monday, June 20 in observance of the holiday. 

We invite you to celebrate this important day by attending some Juneteenth events:  

  • Katori’s Little Shakers
    • When: June 16th, 11:00 am 
    • Where: Riverfront, small people’s place
    • Age range: young children, ages 0-5
    • Description: Children will listen to two stories and when prompted engage in dancing, singing and shaking musical instruments. The workshop ends with a group performance demonstrating everything that they have learned. No registration required.  

  • Juneteenth Arts and Crafts for Kids
    • When: June 17th, all day 
    • Where: Riverfront library 
    • Age range: Children ages 0-12
      Description: Games and Family entertainment, crafts and DIY 

  • Juneteenth African Dance Troupe Celebration 
    • When: June 18th, 12:00 pm 
    • Where: Riverfront Library, Small People’s Place
    • Age range: children ages 0-12
    • Description: Marion Archer, founder of The Relevators Dance Troupe, teaches African Dance originating from Liberia and Guinea.  In honor of Juneteenth, there will be a short performance and mini workshop where patrons can join in for the celebration.

  • Our Story Ain’t Been Easy to Tell: Memoirs of the Pentatonic Scale
    • When: June 18th, 2:00pm-3:00pm 
    • Where: Hybrid (both in-person and online). Riverfront, Yonkers Room
    • Description: To celebrate and honor Juneteenth, join us for a profound experience led by Gail Houston and Elnora “Bonnie” Harrison, MSHS, LMHC, who will use film, music, and storytelling to chronicle one of the many ways enslaved Africans handled their captivity by externalizing their feelings through vocalizations and instrumentations of the Pentatonic Scale. This program of the Sankofa Institute for Training and Integrative Services, Inc. will be both in-person and virtual.