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Libraries Staff Share Resources to Commemorate Juneteenth

June 17, 2020

In observance of Juneteenth, Drexel University Libraries staff compiled a list of resources they personally have found to be informative, inspiring, and thought-provoking. We offer these Drexel Libraries “staff picks” with the intention of inspiring dialogue around issues of racism and equality and to help you reflect on Juneteenth, Black culture and the systemic racism that affects Black and Indigenous people and People of Color (BIPOC).

Juneteenth commemorates the effective end of slavery in the United States. It marks the day—June 19, 1865—when enslaved Texans learned they would be free—two months after the Civil War ended and two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Today, Juneteenth—which was initially a uniquely Texan celebration—includes official acknowledgements in almost every state to expand awareness of Black contributions to the history and culture of this country.

The following resources are meant for education and discussion, as discovered by Libraries staff through their own research and self-directed learning. Below you will find links to books, movies, archives and more available locally through the Drexel Libraries and the Free Library of Philadelphia. The Drexel Libraries will try to obtain copies for circulation for those books we don’t already own.

For readers outside the Drexel and Philadelphia communities, we recommend exploring your local library’s collections and interlibrary loan services, or visit Black-owned bookstores or other vendors for purchasing options.

The list is by no means exhaustive, but we hope it will serve as a starting point:

Archives, Books & Other Collections

African American Poetry
Read the collection online via the Drexel University Libraries

This collection includes nearly 3,000 poems by African American poets of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It provides a comprehensive survey of the early history of African American poetry, from the first recorded poem by an African American to the major poets of the nineteenth century.
Recommended by Elise Ferer, Librarian, Information Assistance and Undergraduate Learning

Assata: An Autobiography
By Assata Shakur
Learn more (Contact your local library for access options)

Nearly 40 years after it was written, Assata Shakur’s story is more relevant and powerful than ever. Addressing issues such as food access (“food deserts”), war (lies about the Civil War and economic motives), healthcare disparities (medical racism), police violence (a long list of “Say Their Names” even then, how many thousands added since?), protest violence (see: fire hoses, tear gas), and of course the atrocities of the U.S. prison system and the legal enslavement of so many per the 13th amendment. Yet there is hope within these pages – acknowledgment of incredible Black music and art, as well as Assata’s palpable love of books and poetry remind the reader that Black Joy cannot be silenced. May Assata’s strength and the words of this memoir inspire us as they inspired her godson Tupac, to ACT.
Recommended by Rachel Weidner, Administrative Coordinator

Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”
By Zora Neale Hurston
Borrow the e-book via the Free Library of Philadelphia

This is a great non-fiction historical read. In 1927 and 1931, author Zora Neale Hurston interviewed a man about his capture and subsequent experience coming over on the last slave ship, The Clotilda.
Recommended by Nichole Beard, Assistant II/Online Resources

The HistoryMakers Digital Archive
Access the Digital Archive

Self-described as “the nation’s largest African American video oral history collection,” this online archive drew me into exploring some of the short biographies and oral histories assembled with the purpose of “preserving and making widely accessible the untold personal stories of both well-known and unsung African Americans.” I found personal connections—like the serendipity find of the entry for Carl Spight, an academic administrator, physicists, and professor who, like me, attended an urban city school and remembered taking radio and tv tubes to the drugstore to check if they still worked. His favorite quote also resonated with me: “The future of the future is in the critical recovery of the present.” There is much more to learn and admire about his—and thousands of others—stories told by Black Americans that are different than mine.
Recommended by Danuta A. Nitecki, Dean of Libraries

Letter to My Daughter
By Dr. Maya Angelou
Borrow the e-book via the Free Library of Philadelphia

This title embraced me as Dr. Angelou, who never had a daughter, found it necessary to give us a blueprint on how to be a strong and phenomenal black woman in America. She explained in a way that was firm but loving and it allowed me to grasp the fact that even in the harsh reality of America’s challenges, we should be respected and treated with dignity and grace.
Recommended by Tonie Williams, Assistant II/Client Access Experiences

Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge
By Erica Armstrong Dunbar
Borrow the e-book via the Free Library of Philadelphia

As President and First Lady, the Washingtons basically circumvented Pennsylvania slavery laws. Pennsylvania law stated that enslaved people over a certain age would be granted freedom after six months of residency. The Washingtons and their white staff were careful to keep this law from their slaves, and so they often rotated them back to Mount Vernon after six months of PA residence. As Martha Washington’s body slave, Ona Judge learned this information and outsmarted them to gain her freedom.
Recommended by Nichole Beard, Assistant II/Online Resources

The New Jim Crow
By Michelle Alexander
Read online via the Drexel Libraries
Borrow the e-book via the Free Library of Philadelphia

This title made me aware of the fact that even though they are incarcerated, black men and women are still being used for cheap labor to allow corporations to bypass hiring people and giving them full benefits and privileges, i.e.: modern day slavery.
Recommended by Tonie Williams, Assistant II/Client Access Experiences

Twentieth-Century African American Poetry
Read the collection online via the Drexel Libraries  

This unparalleled collection includes 9,000 poems by the most important and influential African American poets of the last century.
Recommended by Elise Ferer, Librarian, Information Assistance and Undergraduate Learning

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
By Isabel Wilkerson
Borrow the e-book via the Free Library of Philadelphia

Between 1915 and 1970, more than six million African Americans migrated from the south to northern and western states in search of a better life. Told through the voices of three characters, this book helped me create a historical context for my grandparents, who were part of that migration in the 1930s.
Recommended by Janice Masud-Paul, Librarian, Health Sciences

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations about Race
By Beverly Daniel Tatum
Learn more (Contact your local library for access options)

This book provides an in-depth explanation of how we develop our racial identities and the impact that discrimination, racism, and implicit bias has on that development. The author also discusses topics that commonly come up when racism is discussed such as affirmative action and color-blind ideology. The book provided a valuable perspective on the importance of creating inclusive learning environments.
Recommended by Katherine Fischer, Manager, Client Access Experiences

Documentaries, Films & Videos

The Danger of a Single Story
TED Talk presented by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Watch the video online

I watched this video as part of a diversity and inclusion workshop for Peirce University, and the nuances of what Adichie says about our individual uniqueness/stories is very powerful.
Recommended by Sharon Brubaker,
Technician II/Acquisitions 

I Am Not Your Negro
Directed by Raoul Peck
Watch at home options

This documentary is based on the unfinished final manuscript, Remember This House by James Baldwin, and it highlights many interviews with him explaining the everyday struggles of my people. 
Recommended by Tonie Williams, Assistant II/Client Access Experiences

Voices from the Days of Slavery: Stories, Songs and Memories

American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress
Access the oral history project online

This oral history project from the 1930s and 1940s interviewed Black Americans who were formerly enslaved. Each of the interviews comes with a transcript because of the grainy audio quality, and I recommend listening to the interviews while simultaneously reading along with the transcript. It's a visceral experience, to hear the stories of enslavement directly from those who experienced it.
Recommended by Sam Kirk, Manager for Curricula Support

Journal & News Articles

The Trayvon Generation (for Solo, Simon, Robel, Maurice, Cameron, and Sekou)
By Elizabeth Alexander for The New Yorker, June 22, 2020 issue
Read online via the Drexel Libraries
Read online via

Ms. Alexander writes powerfully about being the mother of young people who grew up with the murder of Trayvon Martin and too many others as the backdrop of their lives. My children are white, but there are many African American young people who have become part of our family – and whose mothers shared the raising of my children. Too many lives have been shaded by this pain.
Recommended by Kathleen Turner, Librarian, Public Health

West Philadelphia Welcomes Juneteenth Parade and Festival with Open Arms
Emily Scott for WHYY (June 22, 2019)
Read the article online via WHYY 

I’ve had several people express interest in joining a celebration in Philly—but also wanting to follow best practices to avoid COVID-19. For those interested in how Juneteenth has been celebrated in previous years, this article is a great description.
Recommended by John Wiggins, Director, Services & Quality Improvement

Events & Other Resources

Juneteenth Resources from PBS
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
Juneteenth | All About the Holidays (Grades: K-5)
Juneteenth Jamboree
Racism in America

As a Philadelphia native and graduate of public school, I often recall being taught about the Emancipation Proclamation and Independence Day; however, the Juneteenth holiday was absent from my school curriculum and history books. I recently discovered that Juneteenth gained recognition as a Pennsylvania state holiday in 2001, the year I graduated from high school. Although I did not learn about Juneteenth at an early age, I hope that all children begin receiving a well-rounded education on Black history, in and outside of the classroom, to become knowledgeable of this important historic day. I look forward to celebrating Juneteenth, also known as Black Independence Day, for many years to come.

I recommend visiting PBS for more information about Juneteenth’s origin. If interested in taking a deeper dive in to the African American experience and perspective, take a look at the more in-depth videos that PBS offers not only about Juneteenth’s history and celebrations but also on racism in America.
Recommended by Tainesha Ware, Administrative Coordinator

Justice in June
Access the resource online

I have been using the Justice in June list to educate myself on racism and becoming a better ally. I’m currently working through the “10 minutes a day resources,” and there is a lot of good [information and resources] here.
Recommended by Elise Ferer, Librarian, Information Assistance and Undergraduate Learning

Museum Marks 155th Anniversary of Juneteenth Virtually, June 19
Read the press release online

This isn’t a single resource, but The Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia is hosting virtual programs for the 155th Anniversary of Juneteenth and will explore the continuing struggle for equality.
Recommended by Nichole Beard, Assistant II/Online Resources

Resource Guides

Drexel University Libraries Black Lives Matter Resources: Check out this list of resources available via the Drexel Libraries.

Drexel Legal Research Center’s Black Lives Matter Resource Guide: The Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law Legal Research Center is creating a resource guide with action steps and resources for any and all to connect with their communities and protect and assist people of color.