Opening remarks by Ms. Opal Lee, Social Impact Leader
On Juneteenth is the essential, sweeping story of Juneteenth’s integral importance to American history, as told by Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and Texas native Annette Gordon-Reed.
Weaving together American history, a dramatic family chronicle, and searing episodes of memoir, Gordon-Reed’s On Juneteenth provides a historian’s view of the country’s long road to Juneteenth, recounting both its origins in Texas and the enormous hardships that African Americans have endured in the century since, from Reconstruction through Jim Crow and beyond.
All too aware of the stories of cowboys, ranchers, and oilmen that have long dominated the lore of the Lone Star State, Gordon-Reed—herself a Texas native and the descendant of enslaved people brought to Texas as early as the 1820s—forges a new and profoundly truthful narrative of her home state, with implications for us all. Combining personal anecdotes with poignant facts gleaned from 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.
One of the nation’s most accomplished historians and legal scholars, Annette Gordon-Reed was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for her work The Hemingses of Monticello. Among other honors, she has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Fellowship.
“Annette Gordon-Reed has changed how people think about America.” — Larry Bacow, Harvard University president