A new exhibit in the lobby on the fourth floor of Alden Library displays items in the Libraries’ collections that honor Juneteenth, which was made a national holiday earlier this year. The materials were acquired by the Libraries’ Juneteenth Planning Group to honor the holiday and reaffirm the Libraries’ commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion by providing more diverse resources for the OHIO community.
On June 19, 1865, enslaved people in Texas learned they were free after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation nearly two and a half years earlier. Juneteenth, which takes place on June 19th every year, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States and is known by many different names such as Emancipation Day and Black Independence Day.
Today, Juneteenth is an opportunity to recognize the end of slavery and the hardships that Black people have faced in the United States, as well as a celebration of the history, culture and achievements of African Americans. Ohio University officially recognized Juneteenth in 2021, and the Libraries was able to make the Juneteenth acquisition in honor of the holiday.
“The country declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday is so incredibly overdue and a small step toward acknowledging and addressing so many of the deep inequities in our society, so it was gratifying that the University and the Libraries followed in the government’s footsteps to observe this day on campus,” said Special Collections Librarian Dr. Miriam Intrator.
The exhibit contains historic rare books spanning a range of time periods, such as Frances Harper’s 1892 book “Iola Leroy; or, Shadows Uplifted,” long considered to be the first book published by an African American woman and Ada DeBlanc’s “Let’s Pretend: Mae Dee,” a series of young adult books written in the late 1970s and early 80s. The Libraries also acquired contemporary artists’ books, such as “Emergence,” which was created by Alisa Banks in 2019.
These materials, along with the newly acquired Black Studies Center and Black Abolitionist Papers databases, give the University community access to resources that can be used in teaching, learning and research to better study and tell the story of Black history, lives and experiences.
“It’s an extension of the celebration and it’s about making people aware of the Libraries stated commitment to acquiring more diverse materials,” Intrator said.
The Juneteenth acquisition and exhibit align with the Libraries’ Strategic Plan, demonstrating the Libraries’ commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion for all faculty, students and staff at OHIO by providing more culturally diverse resources and collections that better represent the global community at large.
For more information about the Libraries’ Juneteenth exhibit and materials on display, contact Miriam Intrator.