""It is staggering that there is no date commemorating the end of slavery in the United States." -Annette Gordon-Reed. The essential, sweeping story of Juneteenth's integral importance to American history, as told by a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Texas native. Interweaving American history, dramatic family chronicle, and searing episodes of memoir, Annette Gordon-Reed, the descendant of enslaved people brought to Texas in the 1850s, recounts the origins of Juneteenth and explores the legacies ofthe holiday that remain with us. From the earliest presence of black people in Texas-in the 1500s, well before enslaved Africans arrived in Jamestown-to the day in Galveston on June 19, 1865, when General Gordon Granger announced the end of slavery, Gordon-Reed's insightful and inspiring essays present the saga of a "frontier" peopled by Native Americans, Anglos, Tejanos, and Blacks that became a slaveholder's republic. Reworking the "Alamo" framework, Gordon-Reed shows that the slave-and race-based economy not only defined this fractious era of Texas independence, but precipitated the Mexican-American War and the resulting Civil War. A commemoration of Juneteenth and the fraught legacies of slavery that still persist, On Juneteenth is stark reminder that the fight for equality is ongoing"-- - (Baker & Taylor)
In this intricately woven tapestry of American history, dramatic family chronicle, and searing episodes of memoir, the descendant of enslaved people brought to Texas in the 1850s, recounts the origins of Juneteenth and explores the legacies of the holiday that remain with us. - (Baker & Taylor)
On JuneteenthCombining personal anecdotes with poignant facts gleaned from the annals of American history, Gordon-Reed shows how, from the earliest presence of Black people in Texas to the day in Galveston on June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of legalized slavery in the state, African-Americans played an integral role in the Texas story.Reworking the traditional “Alamo” framework, she powerfully demonstrates, among other things, that the slave- and race-based economy not only defined the fractious era of Texas independence but precipitated the Mexican-American War and, indeed, the Civil War itself.On JuneteenthOn Juneteenth - (WW Norton)
New York TimesNew York TimesWashington Post - (WW Norton)
Praise for Annette Gordon-Reed—Edmund S. Morgan—David W. Blight—David Levering Lewis - (WW Norton)
*Starred Review* Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon-Reed grew up both proudly African American and Texan, and was well aware of the contradictions since the symbolic Texan cowboy is safely white and apart from slavery. Yet this conception of the rugged independent Texan unsullied by Confederate racism is a myth: the primary motivation for Texas' rebellion against Mexico was not to preserve "freedom" but to maintain slavery. Gordon-Reed points out that Texas' original constitution, though modeled on that of the U.S., notably omitted "All men are created equal," and specifically forbade emancipation while barring free Blacks from entering the state. The emancipation announcement on June 19, 1865, which asserted Black equality as well as freedom, was met with white outrage and violence. While Texas has long been a multiracial blend of European, Mexican, African American, and Native cultures, "the interests of the men most credited with envisioning Texas and bringing it into being were most often antithetical to the interests of people of color who occupied the same space and time with them." As Juneteenth morphs from a primarily Texan celebration of African American freedom to a proposed national holiday, Gordon-Reed urges Texans and all Americans to reflect critically on this tangled history. A remarkable meditation on the history and folk mythology of Texas from an African American perspective. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.
Library Journal Reviews
With this book of five essays, Gordon-Reed (known for her landmark research on Sally Hemings) examines her own past and family, and interrogates what it means to her to be a Black Texan. Starting with her story of being the first Black child to integrate her local school in Conroe, TX, Gordon-Reed reveals the history of lynching and terror inflicted on her family and their neighbors, which haunts them still. She reminds us that Estebanico, a Black Muslim man from Morocco, arrived in present-day Texas a century before the landmark year 1619 that we often recognize as the start of slavery in the U.S. She also examines the role of slavery in luring whites to eventually establish the state of Texas. Gordon-Reed recalls the cultural artifacts that inflected her own youth (the Alamo, Billy Jack, Six Flags over Texas, and the Yellow Rose of Texas, for example) and uncovers their hidden histories of race. Her stories about her family's Juneteenth celebrations show that the holiday is uniquely Texan, even as it has now spread across the nation. VERDICT This beautifully written memoir makes the case that the history of Black Texas is central to the history of the United States. Gordon-Reed's writing will move all readers of U.S. history.—Kate Stewart, Tucson
Copyright 2021 Library Journal.