At the Westerly Library and Wilcox Park: Learn about Juneteenth at the library (2024)

In just a couple of weeks, we’ll get together for cookouts, beach days, and patriotic-colored treats in commemoration of the Fourth of July, and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In doing so, we celebrate our founding fathers, the birth of our country, freedom, liberty, and the sacrifices of those who fought for these rights. This week, though, on Wednesday the 19th, we celebrate Juneteenth, and remember that July 4, 1776, was not a day of freedom for hundreds of thousands of enslaved people in the United States.

In 1852, abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass gave his famous “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” speech, in which he poignantly asserted: “The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me […] This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” It was not until June 19, 1865 — over two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and two months after the end of the Civil War — that Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to finally spread the word that the war was over, and the enslaved people were free. This is the event that inspired Juneteenth, a day that Black families have been celebrating since 1866, but which was finally declared a federal holiday in 2021. You can learn more about the origin of the holiday in “On Juneteenth” by Annette Gordon-Reed, and read the full speech by Frederick Douglass in “Frederick Douglass and the Fourth of July,” by James A. Colaiaco.

The library will be closed on Wednesday in recognition of this holiday, but you can still access many of our books and resources online through Libby, hoopla, Kanopy, and the library’s website. For anyone who isn’t Black, or doesn’t typically celebrate Juneteenth, but would like to recognize the holiday or learn more about it, there are many ways to do this. Readers can check out books by and about Black authors, including some of our recommended reads on Juneteenth. If you’re a parent, share the history through children’s books like “Opal Lee and What it Means to be Free” by Alice Faye Duncan, or check out our Story Walk in Wilcox Park, which features “The Juneteenth Story” by Alliah Agostini. You can watch a film that depicts or honors Black life and culture, or go out and support Black-owned businesses. If you missed the Westerly Anti-Racism Coalition’s “Juneteenth Celebration” yesterday in Wilcox Park, you can join the group on the steps of the post office every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for discussions, engagement, and programming related to multiculturalism, and to learn how you can take action against racism. Of course, all of this can — and should — be done year-round, but Wednesday’s holiday is certainly a great time to begin!

Top Requested Books

1. “The Women” by Kristin Hannah

2. “Swan Song” by Elin Hilderbrand

3. “Funny Story” by Emily Henry

4. “Camino Ghosts” by John Grisham

5. “One Perfect Couple” by Ruth Ware

6. “The Housemaid is Watching” by Freida McFadden

7. “Think Twice” by Harlan Coben

8. “The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store” by James McBride

9. “An Unfinished Love Story” by Doris Kearns Goodwin

10. “Eruption” by Michael Crichton

Top Requested DVDs

1. “American Fiction”

2. “Bob Marley: One Love”

3. “Anatomy of a Fall”

4. “The Boys in the Boat”

5. “Arthur the King”

6. “One Life”

7. “Godzilla x Kong”

8. “Immaculate”

9. “The Taste of Things”

10. “In the Land of Saints and Sinners”

This Week

MONDAY — 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Storywalk | The Juneteenth Story – Through June 20th, we will have the book “The Juneteenth Story: Celebrating the End of Slavery in the United States” displayed in the park for all to stroll and read; 11-11:30 a.m., Kids Natural Arts – Join us in making paint out of plants; 2-4 p.m., Sewers in Stitches – Bring your supplies and practice your yarn art skills with others; 4-5 p.m., Tween Eco Explorers – A weekly adventure to explore our environment; 4-5 p.m., Stop Motion Monday – Learn how to create your own stop motion videos with handmade characters and scenes. This program is for tweens and teens in grades 4-12.

TUESDAY — 11 a.m.-12 p.m., Code with Botley 2.0! – Ages 4-7 are invited to join us in building mazes and playing games with our Botley robots; 1-4 p.m., Community Resource Advocate – Visit our volunteer Community Resource Advocate, who can help connect you with local services/resources; 3:30-5 p.m./5-6:30 p.m., Tween Dungeons and Dragons – These programs are for ages 8-12; 4-5:30 p.m., Teen Dungeons and Dragons – This program is for teens in grades 7-12; 5:30-7:30 p.m., Knit and Crochet Group – A friendly yarn craft club.

WEDNESDAY — The library will be closed for Juneteenth.

THURSDAY — 2-3 p.m., Trash to Treasure | Water Bottle Flowers – Kids can join us every Thursday to make art out of recycled materials; 4-5 p.m., Teen Crafternoon – Enjoy weekly crafting activities and snacks; 4-5 p.m., Tween Lego Club – Showcase your master builder skills with our LEGO kits; 5:30-6 p.m., Science Storytime – Join us for a special science-themed storytime led by Marcus, a URI student studying chemical engineering; 5:30-7:30 p.m., Chess Club – Players of all skill levels are welcome; 6-6:30 p.m., Laser Cutting Basics – An info session on engraving with the Glowforge; 6:30-7:30 p.m., Laser Club – Bring your lasercrafting ideas and learn how to print them on the Glowforge.

SATURDAY — 9 a.m.-12 p.m., URI Master Gardener Kiosk – Get research-based answers to all of your gardening questions; 10-11:30 a.m., Walking Tour of Wilcox Park | Specimen Trees – This tour showcases some of the Master Gardeners favorite trees in the Park. Please meet on the Esplanade at the side entrance of the library; 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Westerly Writer’s Group – Share work, discuss readings, and write in response to prompts in this group-led writing workshop; 6-10 p.m., Summer Pops – Watch The Chorus of Westerly bring music into Wilcox Park in its Annual Summer Pops Concert. This free event includes beloved arrangements of classical masterworks as well as popular music. The pre-show, beginning at 6:15 pm, showcases featured community performers.

Cassie Skobrak is an adult services librarian at the Westerly Library and Wilcox Park

At the Westerly Library and Wilcox Park: Learn about Juneteenth at the library (2024)
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