Juneteenth celebrates the freedom of enslaved people in the United States at the end of the Civil War.

President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law on June 17. 2021, making Juneteenth a federal holiday.


Why is Juneteenth Significant?

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 freeing all enslaved people in Texas and other Southern secessionist states in the Confederacy (with the exception of Delaware and Kentucky because they were not part of the rebellion).  Enforcement of the Proclamation relied on Union Troops.  Texas was the most remote state and there were not a lot of Union Troops in the area, so it took two full years before every slave had been freed in those territories, as well as in areas of Delaware and Kentucky 

Juneteenth is known as “The Second Independence Day in America” because it is the day that all people were free in America, including the enslaved people in Delaware and Kentucky.

What is Rainbow Month?

President Bill Clinton declared June “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month” in 1999 and 2000.  Barack Obama declared June, LGBTQ Pride Month, every year that he was in office from 2009 – 2016.  President Joe Biden declared June LGBTQ+ Pride Month in 2021.  

The American Library Association used the term LGBTQIA+ Pride Month for several years and last year, in 2021, changed it to Rainbow Month, as a way of embracing all people who identify in the LGBTQIA+ community.

Why June and why is Rainbow Month Significant?

On June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village, New York.  For six days and nights afterward, residents, patrons and staff of the Stonewall Club rioted outside the establishment on Christopher Street.  They demanded that there be places where LGBTQ+ people could go and be open about their sexual orientation without fear of arrest.

The following year, a bisexual activist, Brenda Howard, known as “The Mother of Pride” organized a Gay Pride Week for the last week of June and Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970, commemorating a year after the Stonewall Riots.  Other communities soon followed suit, but New York City always holds their Pride Parade on the last Saturday in June.  There is a celebration and a festive spirit throughout the entire city and the Stonewall Inn, which still exists, is always packed.

Rainbow Month is significant because it is a sign of acceptance of people in the LGBTQIA+ community.

What is Own Voices Fiction?

Own Voices fiction is fiction written by and about a particular group of people.  

So often fiction is written about a particular ethnic, cultural or religious group that is not part of that ethnic, cultural or religious group.  Oftentimes cisgender writers will write books about the LGBTQIA+ community.

What is the Significance of Own Voices Fiction?

Own Voices authors can give a deeper and more meaningful understanding of what it feels like to be part of a particular ethnic, cultural or religious group or to identify as LGBTQIA+.  Own Voices authors can give insight, share their experiences and those of their ancestors that have been handed down.  They are experts on the topic because they are living it.

Own Voices fiction and non-fiction has been around for a long time, but in the summer of 2020, things came to light in the publishing world.  Own Voices author’s manuscripts were often overlooked, when they were picked up, they were often given less money than other groups.  The publishing world has made great strides to change this in the last two years and more and more Own Voices books are available.

We thought June was a good month to highlight Own Voices books because we celebrate both Rainbow Month and Juneteenth.  

Own Voices Books for Juneteenth

Between the World and Me by Ta-Neshi Coates

Coastes writes a raw, powerful letter to his son about his life as a Black man and his fears and dreams for his son and the Black community.

In this in-depth look into Black history, Kendi chronicles the history of anti-Blackness in America, from the arrival of the first enslaved people to the present. He uses five historical figures who are integral to American and Black history

In this series of essays, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Gordon-Reed weaves together American history and her own family history and eloquently pays tribute to the integral role of Blacks in shaping Texas.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Isabel Wilkerson, examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.

Own Voices Books for Rainbow Month

When Emilie and Sara first meet at Yerba Buena, their connection is immediate. But the damage both women carry, and the choices they have made, pulls them apart again and again. 

When their mom dies and their dad is going through a health crisis, these three siblings enjoy time with their Gay Uncle or “Uncle” or Gay Uncle Patrick “GUP” for short.  This is a hilarious, beautiful and heartwarming story.

Struggling with family problems and still living in a FEMA trailer years after Hurricane Katrina, lesbian teenager Ramona welcomes the return of her childhood friend Freddie but her shifting feelings for him cause her to question her sexual identity.

Children have always disappeared from Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere … else. 

YA Own Voices Books for June

A story about a Black teenage girl who has to balance the worlds of a poor,  mostly Black neighborhood and a white prep school, then she witnesses the fatal shooting of one of her best friends at the hands of a police officer.

A Black teenage boy who tries to live a year in his life the way he thinks Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have lived and he has to make tough decisions and deal with racism among his friends and at the hands of a police officer.

Every morning A wakes in a different person’s body, in a different person’s life, learning over the years to never get too attached, until he wakes up in the body of Justin and falls in love with Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon.

Amanda Hardy only wants to fit in at her new school, but she is keeping a big secret, so when she falls for Grant, guarded Amanda finds herself yearning to share with him everything about herself, including her previous life as Andrew.

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