Narrated by LeVar Burton and illustrated by artist Loveis Wise, the poem Lift Every Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson powers this Google Doodle in celebration of the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth. From Google Creative Director Angelica McKinley:
Short for “June Nineteenth,” Juneteenth marks the true end of chattel slavery across the United States— which didn’t actually occur until 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Specifically, it marks the day when enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas (one of the westernmost points in the Confederate South) finally received news of their liberation by Union Major General Gordon Granger. He arrived with 1,800 federal troops in order to ensure compliance in Confederate states, many of which continued to defy the executive order years after it was mandated…
Though widely celebrated by the community in its first years, Juneteenth’s absence in the mainstream U.S. historical narrative has made it an unknown holiday to many for decades. The 1960s Civil Rights Era saw a resurgence in Juneteenth awareness, leading to the creation of today’s two largest Juneteenth celebrations in Milwaukee and Minneapolis. Later in 1979, U.S. Representative Al Edwards introduced legislation in Texas to officially recognize the holiday, making it a state holiday the following year.
Over time, this growing awareness of Juneteenth has led to an exponential growth of events in cities across the nation. These celebrations have included rodeos featuring black cowboys, parades with gorgeous floats, readings of the Proclamation, songs like “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and much more.
Go behind the scenes of this Juneteenth Google Doodle with McKinley as she describes the process of its creation, as well as Lift Every Voice and Sing, considered to be The Black National Anthem. Wise and Burton are also featured:
Read more about The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth with the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.