Hudson Library to celebrate Juneteenth, African American culture

The Hudson Library and Historical Society celebrates Juneteenth this month with a number of events to educate and reflect on the significance of the holiday.

Juneteenth is a federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. The holiday, which is also often a day of celebration of African-American culture, is observed on June 19.

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author Annette Gordon-Reed will join the library on June 13 for a live virtual chat on holidays and his book “June 16.” She said everyone should celebrate the holiday regardless of race.

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“They can and should celebrate. This was a human rights breakthrough achieved through the efforts of the United States Army and the slaves who emancipated themselves by leaving the plantations and joining the army,” she said.

His book, which is a New York Times bestseller, gives a historian’s perspective on the country’s journey to honor Juneteenth, recounting its origins and the enormous hardships African Americans have endured since. The book also includes personal anecdotes and is a partial memoir by Gordon-Reed.

Gordon-Reed was invited to the White House on June 19, 2021, when President Joe Biden declared June 19 a federal holiday. She said it was an amazing experience.

The library received a grant from Ohio Humanities Councila state affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities, to support this community event.

As part of the funded project, the Hudson Library will host the free lecture and provide additional teaching materials and resources, as well as local Hudson history related to the topic. Registration for the event is done on the Library website: www.hudsonlibrary.org.

“Juneteenth is a family and community celebration that everyone can participate in,” Gordon-Reed said.

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Hudson librarians have curated a wide variety of resources for all ages, both online and in the library, on Juneteenth and related topics, said Polly Reynolds, adult services and archives manager.

Hudson’s story evokes many of the themes of this event. Hudson, once called the “citadel of abolitionism,” was an active stop on the Underground Railroad and was the childhood home of abolitionist John Brown, Reynolds said.

“The Hudson Library will lead a walking tour of homes and sites that played a significant role in Hudson’s pre-Civil War anti-slavery movement,” she said. “Self-guided tours are also available through the Library’s Underground Railroad Virtual Walking Tour, which will also be available as a standalone app in the near future.”

Several copies of Gordon-Reed’s book On Juneteenth are available for patrons to borrow from the library.

“After the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, people reflected on the history leading up to this event, thinking about the legacy of slavery,” she said. “Juneteenth the following month became, I think, a center of attention for many. We needed a day to reflect on the history of black struggle in America.”

Journalist Molly Walsh can be reached at [email protected]


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