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Observing Juneteenth 2021

Juneteenth 2021 |PBS

June 10, 2021

By Beatrice Alvarez

As we look ahead to this year's Juneteenth (June 19, 2021) observances, we see communities planning events and celebrations. Some people and communities will be observing the holiday in a new way, either because they just learned about Juneteenth in the last year or because pandemic precautions limited large gatherings.

The holiday's origin story begins in Galveston, Texas, which was the western-most area of the Union in 1865. When enslaved people there were told of their emancipation on June 19, 1865, they had technically already been freed two and a half years prior, when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Slaveholders in Texas had kept the information to themselves, extending the period of violent exploitation of enslaved African Americans. The following year, in 1866, a celebration was had in Texas, the first Juneteenth observance to recognize freedom from slavery in the U.S.

Below are some programs that offer more information on Juneteenth and explore how meaningful this year's celebrations will be in light of the multiple traumatic events of the last year.


Editor's note: This article was updated June 18, 2021 to include the latest streaming content available.

Juneteenth Jamboree: From a Free Place to Displace | Austin PBS

The regional connection of Juneteenth is clear to Austin, TX PBS station Austin PBS - KLRU. They have been producing an annual show about Juneteenth for 13 years now. You can stream this year's Juneteenth Jamboree now.

Juneteenth Jamboree

Juneteenth Jamboree: From a Free Place to Displace

Explore how gentrification and rising property values affect the Black community in Austin

Courageous Conversations: Juneteenth | PBS39

A Juneteenth celebration is being planned this year in Lehigh Valley, PA. Event organizers shared their thoughts on the significance of their communities' observance of the holiday on this episode of Courageous Conversations from local station PBS39.

Courageous Conversations

Courageous Conversations: Juneteenth

Guests are Hanna Elliott, Karen Britt, Suzanne Fredericks

Basic Black: Juneteenth | GBH

In Boston, MA GBH's long-running series Basic Black dedicated a recent episode to talking all about Juneteenth in 2021. Panelists put the historical significance of the holiday into perspective as the country begins to recover from the global pandemic and political unrest.

Basic Black


Our panel discusses the Juneteenth holiday.

Say It Loud | Digital Studios

Say It Loud, a show that celebrates Black culture, context, and history, returns for a second season with a premiere episode about Juneteenth. Stream it here, along with the show's standout first season.

Say It Loud

Juneteenth: Freedom and the Fine Print

We explain the origin of Juneteenth and focus on 3 "Fine Print" areas of Freedom.

Slavery by Another Name | Twin Cities PBS, TPT

One of the lessons of Juneteenth is that slavery's shadow is long and dark. The fact that people remained enslaved years after the Emancipation Proclamation shows how the dehumanization and racism of chattel slavery took deep roots in American society, making people think that African Americans were undeserving of freedom and equal rights only because of the color of their skin. Twin Cities PBS has made available a documentary that explores how the end of slavery was perversely interpreted to keep African American people in servitude: Slavery by Another Name.

Slavery by Another Name

Slavery by Another Name

Slavery by Another Name explores the new forms of slavery after the Civil War.

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross

Many Rivers, as it is known to many viewers, is the historical account that answers questions about the past to help guide the future. Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr's seminal series on African American history is available to stream in its entirety.

Without learning the nation's history with clear eyes, how can we understand the significance Juneteenth in present-day United States? 

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross

A More Perfect Union (1968-2013)

From the Black Power movement to the first black president of the United States.

Playlist title
1 / 6 Videos
A More Perfect Union (1968-2013)
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
A More Perfect Union (1968-2013)
Rise! (1940-1968)
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
Rise! (1940-1968)
Making a Way Out of No Way (1897-1940)
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
Making a Way Out of No Way (1897-1940)
Into the Fire (1861-1896)
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
Into the Fire (1861-1896)
The Age of Slavery
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
The Age of Slavery
The Black Atlantic
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
The Black Atlantic

Black Issues Forum | PBS North Carolina

Updated: The Juneteenth episode of Black Issues Forum is available to stream. Watch it below or on the PBS Video App.

Speaking of good things on the way, PBS North Carolina's Black Issues Forum series will discuss Juneteenth on their June 18th episode, as well as visit the set and cast of OWN Network's drama series Delilah. Once the episode is available to stream, we'll add it here. In the meantime, watch their June 4th show, in which show host and producer Deborah Holt Noel leads a discussion on the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre and investing for racial equity.

Black Issues Forum

Juneteenth, OWN’s “Delilah”, and Stephanie Mills

Juneteenth a National Holiday, OWN’s “Delilah” Represents Charlotte, and Stephanie Mills.

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