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Social Justice Topics @ Pitt: Juneteenth Resources

This guide was created to commemorate Juneteenth (a.k.a., Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Liberation Day), a holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States.

Juneteenth Resources for Kids

How can we talk about Juneteenth to children?

You might not want to explain Juneteenth to kids if you don’t want to explain slavery to them. It may be too scary a topic for kids that aren’t old enough—and while children’s ability to understand and manage that kind of information varies, it’s safer to not start until they’re closer to 6 or 7 years old. However, if children who are younger raise the issue, there are ways to explain it to them that won’t cause anxiety.

I like to reference a TED Talk by author and scholar Beverly Daniel Tatum called “Is My Skin Brown Because I Drank Chocolate Milk?” The way she explained it to her son (who asked the question that became the title of her talk) was: A long time ago, before there were companies, stores and buildings, there were some people who needed to work the land in the United States. There was a need for smart, strong workers—and they went to Africa and brought them to the United States against their will which wasn’t OK. They were people but they were called slaves. Those people made them work, but never paid them and they were never allowed to leave the plantations where they worked; it was very unfair. But there were also good people who were working to end slavery, Black and white people, and they were eventually successful. Of course, this is an abbreviated version and you may need to add many more details, but you will have at least covered many of the main issues. 

Once you get to the part of the story where you’re explaining Juneteenth, you can tell children that during that time there were no things like TV or phones to communicate; information was written in letters and carried from one place to another on horses. Not everyone got the news at the same time that slavery had ended, so it took two years for people to find out about it in Texas. But on June 19, people in that state did learn about it. 

----Excerpt from Aisha White, director of the P.R.I.D.E. Program (Positive Racial Identity Development in Early Education) in the School of Education’s Office of Child Development featured in Pittwire article, How to Talk to Children about Juneteenth.

Overall Tips

  1. Introduce the topic of slavery and Juneteenth with appropriate learning level articles and books.
  2. Reinforce concepts with visual learning objects like educational videos and feature films.
  3. Create fun learning activities at home including coloring pages, games or making a traditional Juneteenth meal together.
  4. Encourage open dialogue and reflection on Juneteenth and why it is important.

Helpful Articles


Educational Videos

Teaching Aids and Lesson Plans

Activity Sheets