Wake County libraries and parks plan programs in honor of Juneteenth

Wake County Public Libraries and Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space have developed several special programs designed to reflect on the history and contributions of African Americans this Juneteenth. These educational and celebratory events take place throughout the month.

"Juneteenth is a powerful reminder of the resilience and contributions of African Americans in our community," said Shinica Thomas, chair, Wake County Board of Commissioners. "It is important to honor this deeply significant day, and I encourage everyone to take advantage of one of the opportunities provided by our libraries and parks.”

Programs include:

Meet the Author: Bertha Boykin Todd
Monday, June 17
2–3 p.m. |
Southgate Community Library
6–7 p.m. |
Richard B. Harrison Community Library

Tuesday, June 18
3–4 p.m. |
Wendell Community Library
6:30–7:30 p.m. |
Wake Forest Community Library

Bertha Boykin Todd, Ed.S., author of "Reflections on a Massacre and a Coup," will delve into the civil unrest and racial tensions leading up to the 1898 Wilmington massacre. Todd will discuss how this tragedy led to the creation of the 1898 Memorial Park in 2008. This event provides a unique opportunity to gain insight into a pivotal moment in North Carolina's history.

Robert Smalls' Amazing Escape From Slavery to Union Hero 
Tuesday, June 18 | 6:30–7:30 p.m.


Author Cate Lineberry will discuss her book, "Be Free or Die," the remarkable true story of how Robert Smalls escaped slavery by seizing a Confederate ship in Charleston Harbor and sailing it to Union forces. Smalls’ courageous and ingenious act freed him and his family from slavery and immediately made him a Union hero, while challenging much of the country’s view of what Black Americans were willing to do to gain their freedom. Register here.

Seeds of Freedom: Juneteenth at Oak View
Wednesday, June 19 |10:30 a.m.
Saturday, June 22 | 10:30 a.m.
Sunday, June 23 | 2 p.m.

Historic Oak View County Park

Join park staff for a walking tour focused on the history of Juneteenth and how the transition from slavery to freedom was experienced by Oak View's enslaved community. Discover stories of how African American families celebrated their liberation and the steps they took to plant seeds of freedom for themselves and their descendants. After the tour, participants will be invited to fold their own seed packet and reflect on what freedom means to them. The program is recommended for ages fourth grade and up. Register here or visit wake.gov/parks.

Families in Nature: Stories Celebrating Diversity
Thursday, June 20
4–5 p.m. and 5:30–6:30 p.m.

Lake Crabtree County Park

Ranita Anderson from Rooted in Color will lead a nature storytime around the history and significance of Juneteenth. Attendees will hear stories that will focus on how nature and joy are displayed in the celebration of Juneteenth, while honoring the Black connection to nature and liberation. After reading, participants will continue the celebration by exploring what sparks joy in their natural surroundings. Register here.

Self-Guided StoryWalk®
All month
Historic Oak View County Park

Historic Oak View County Park's brick walkways will feature the children's book “Build a House” by author Rhiannon Giddens and illustrator Monica Mikai. Written as a song to commemorate the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, “Build a House” tells the moving story of a people who would not be moved and the music that sustained them. This dramatic debut offers a proud view of history and a vital message for readers of all ages: honor your heritage, express your truth and let your voice soar, even – or perhaps especially – when your heart is heaviest.

Juneteenth Freedom Stories Walking Trail
All month
Historic Oak View County Park

View interpretive panels about the history of Juneteenth and the stories of how the enslaved community at Historic Oak View County Park experienced the transition from slavery to freedom. The self-guided display is located on the park's brick walkways, starting after the StoryWalk® and ending at the 1870s tenant house.

More Ways to Honor Juneteenth 

Wake County Public Libraries offers a variety of other events to honor and celebrate Juneteenth. Explore all Juneteenth events by visiting
wake.gov/libraries and searching “Juneteenth.” Librarians have also curated a special booklist that dives deeper into the history and significance of the day. The collection includes a range of books that explore the history, culture and impact of Juneteenth and the African American experience.

Press Release