Understand & Celebrate: Juneteenth

Science At Home People and Place

Juneteenth is the annual holiday which commemorates the abolishment of slavery in the United States, celebrated on June 19th. On June 19, 1865, federal troops traveled to Galveston, Texas, to pass on the message that the Civil War had ended and that all Black slaves should be freed. Although two years and six months had passed since President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, many Black people remained enslaved in Confederate states and also in the border slave states that remained loyal to the Union.

Juneteenth is a uniquely American holiday. It gained federal recognition in 2021 after decades of advocacy from Black activists and community leaders. Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia mark June 19 as a state holiday or observance. Communities across the country celebrate it with food, parades, and festivities.

Talking to children about cultural holidays — for example, Juneteenth for kids — sounds hard. But it doesn’t have to be. Having these conversations holds newfound significance and is even more important as Juneteenth gains attention on the federal holiday level.

It is important to acknowledge that learning about justice and freedom is an ongoing process. Use this page as a resource to continue expanding your knowledge of this holiday, hard histories, and how they can be celebrated.

Why This Matters to a Science Museum

Since the beginning of this nation, Black people have contributed to the fields of science, technology, agriculture, engineering, and forestry. In partnership with First Tech Federal Credit Union, OMSI is proud to share the stories and contributions of Black Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) professionals who are paving the way for the next generation. Check out our playlist highlighting Black Voices in STEAM.

Resources for Educators & Schools

Early Childhood Education Initiative

At the National Museum of African American History and Culture they believe meaningful museum learning can, and should, happen at every age. A dedicated team of early childhood educators design fun, age-appropriate experiences and resources for children from birth to 8 years old.

Zinn Education Project

Some statewide bills ban teaching about the very structures and systems that led to enslavement as well as how these structures continue to manifest in policing, redlining, voter suppression laws, and more. But educators around the country continue to pledge to teach the truth about structural racism.

Learning For Justice

The history of Juneteenth acknowledges hard history while also empowering students to be advocates for change.

Teaching for Change

When and How to Talk with Young Children about Enslavement: Discussion Questions for Educators

Classroom Activity: Venn Diagram

Invite your students to compare Juneteenth celebrations to Fourth of July celebrations, using a Venn Diagram. What events take place on the two days? What do people do? How are the events described in the media?

More For You

Talking About Race with Kids

A set of resources from Sesame Street Workshop to help kids think about, ask about, and talk about race.

Juneteenth: Federal Holiday

Explore All!

Check out all of OMSI’s Science at Home videos and experiments.

Thanks to Our Sponsors

This project is made possible by a grant from the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation.