Bringing the Often-Overlooked Heroes of Juneteenth Into the Classroom
Posted June 3, 2024

Looking for ways to inspire your students to continue engaging with inclusive history this summer break? Encourage them to learn about Juneteenth! Challenge your students to learn a bit about the history of the holiday, attend Juneteenth celebrations and gain new insights through unique historical programs and activities, like those hosted by the Ohio History Connection.

Also known as Freedom Day or Jubilee Day, Juneteenth is celebrated each year on June 19th to commemorate the day news of the Emancipation Proclamation and subsequent end of slavery reached enslaved people in Galveston, Texas almost two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

The origins of Juneteenth are often attributed to the actions of Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, who wrote and brought General Order No. 3 to Galveston, which unequivocally announced the “absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.” And though his role was important as the leader of some 2000 troops who came to enforce freedom, it is paramount that we also teach our students about the oft-overlooked contributions of the many Black soldiers in United States Colored Troops (USCT) regiments under Granger’s command. Troops, including USCT regiments, were the ones who actually carried the message to the people of Galveston, spreading this good news in the former Confederate stronghold of Texas.

Not only did Black troops play a crucial role in bringing and enforcing the message of freedom on that June day in 1865, but their contributions and sacrifices in the Civil War shaped the course of history. [1]As our students learn about Juneteenth, we have the opportunity to teach them to recognize the contributions of countless Black Americans in shaping our history as a nation.

Discussion Prompts & Activities


[1] For more information about the contributions of Black soldiers in the Civil War, be sure to check out the article “United States Colored Troops in the American Civil War,” published by the National Museum of the United States Army.


Blog image citation: 127th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, 5th United States Colored Troops photograph. Photograph. Delaware, Ohio: 1863. Ohio Memory,
127th Ohio Volunteer Infantry - 5th United States Colored Troops. (June 3, 2024).

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