At Westerly Library & Wilcox Park: Learn more about the June 19 holiday | Guest columns


If you pass the library today, you might notice that the building is closed, but you might not know why. Today we observe Juneteenth, which took place on Sunday, June 19. The day has been celebrated in African-American communities for many years, but it wasn’t until last year that it became a federal holiday, bringing it to the attention of many Americans who were previously unknown.

Many of us remember hearing about the Emancipation Proclamation when we were young: an executive order issued on January 1, 1863 by then-President Abraham Lincoln, which called for the liberation of all slaves. . Unfortunately, the proclamation was severely limited due to the Civil War, so it was not the “end of slavery” as many believe. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865, when Union Army Major General Gordon Granger entered Texas and declared the end of slavery that over 250,000 slaves were finally freed. Even then, freedom didn’t happen overnight for everyone, but it was the birth of the June 19 holiday.

In addition to closing for the day, the library celebrated June 19 with book exhibits and programs that provide information about the holidays and about slavery in the United States. For those who want to know more, “On Juneteenth” is a short but powerful insight from Pulitzer Prize-winning historian (and Texas native) Annette Gordon-Reed, in which she details black history in Texas and the long road that finally led to Juneteenth. Another interesting read is “Juneteenth” by Ralph Ellison (best known for “Invisible Man”), which was published posthumously five years after Ellison’s death. Although the book is a novel, it provides a realistic depiction of the African-American experience in America, and Juneteenth plays an important thematic role. Finally, check out “Watermelon & Red Birds: A Cookbook for Juneteenth and Black Celebrations” by Nicole A. Taylor, which not only features delicious recipes, but also includes essays and photographs of Juneteenth celebrations and traditions.

In addition to these titles, we have a number of fantastic children’s books, such as “What is Juneteenth?” by Kirsti Jewel, or “Juneteenth for Mazie” by Floyd Cooper. If you’re near Wilcox Park today, take a tour and check out our June 19 self-guided walk featuring the new book “Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free” by Alice Faye Duncan. You’ll find panels just behind the bookcase, each with a double page of the book printed on them. Enjoy a short walk with your favorite little ones (or alone!) and meet activist Opal Lee, who is now called the “Juneteenth Grandma”.

Most requested books

  • 1. “The Nantucket Hotel” by Elin Hilderbrand
  • 2. “The Summer Place” by Jennifer Weiner
  • 3. “The City on Fire” by Don Winslow
  • 4. “Workout Partners” by John Grisham
  • 5. “The Parisian Apartment” by Lucy Foley
  • 6. “Fly Girl” by Ann Hood
  • 7. “Book Lovers” by Emily Henry
  • 8. “Find Me” by Viola Davis
  • 9. “The Lost Summers of Newport” by Beatriz Williams
  • 10. “Man 6:20” by David Baldacci

Most requested DVDs

  • 1. “The Beatles: Come Back”
  • 2. “Father Stu”
  • 3. “Morbus”
  • 4. “The Contractor”
  • 5. “Licorice Pizza”
  • 6. “The Nordic”
  • 7. “The worst person in the world”
  • 8. “Ambulances”
  • 9. “Dog”
  • 10. “Everything everywhere at once”

This week

MONDAY — The library will be closed on June 16th.

TUESDAY — 9am-10am, Yoga in the Park with Chelsea Hauck – Join us behind the Wilcox Park pond. Participants should bring a yoga mat, towel, water bottle, and insect repellent. 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Crafternoon To-Go: Bug Fixes – Kits are available in the SKU while supplies last; 1-4pm, Community Resource Advocate – Our volunteer Community Resource Advocate is available via email at [email protected]; 2-3:30 p.m., Virtual Tech Social – We meet on Zoom to answer your technical questions. Prior registration is required; 4-5pm, Weekly Summer Dungeons & Dragons – Join us in Teen Space for a teen-led Dungeons & Dragons campaign! Registration is mandatory; 5:30-7:30 p.m., Knitting and Crocheting Club – The Knitting and Crocheting group meets on the 2nd floor of the library.

WEDNESDAY — 9:30am-10:00am, Essentrics Stretch in the Park – Bring mat, towel and water; 10am-10.30am Summer Family Storytime – Join us in the Terrace Room for a family storytime, suitable for children from birth to 11 when accompanied by a carer.

THURSDAY — 10am-1pm, Friends of the Library pop-up book sale – Every Thursday in the summer, the Friends of the Library organize a pop-up summer book sale on the library esplanade; 3-4pm, Tween Book Club – Join us at Wilcox Park for a book club for 9-12 year olds. Registration is mandatory; 4-5pm, Teen Pride in the Park – Celebrate Pride in the Park with Pompelmo Gelato and decorate the sidewalk with spray chalk; 5:30-6:30 PM, Zumba in the Park – Enjoy a free Zumba class with Yvonne Brown and Tina Pagliusi; 5:30-7:30 p.m., Chess Club – Players of all skill levels are welcome; 6-7:30 p.m., Dante Society Lecture and Book Signing with Zachary Garceau – Join the author for a discussion and book signing on “Great Stories from Westerly’s Past”; 7-9 p.m., Flock Theater presents “Peer Gynt” – Bring your blankets or chairs to Wilcox Park and enjoy the Flock Theater’s adaptation of “Peer Gynt.” This show takes place every evening from Thursday to Sunday.

FRIDAY — 9am-10am, Yoga in the Park with Michael Dotolo – Join us at Wilcox Park, at the back of the pond, for an all-levels yoga class; 5-5:30 p.m. Campfire Crafts and Storytime – We will meet in Wilcox Park by the fountain and be joined by the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center to create, listen to folk tales about the local wildlife and encounter a live animal.

SATURDAY — 9am-12pm, URI Master Gardener Kiosk – Get research-based answers to all your gardening questions; 10am-11.30am, walking tour of Wilcox Park | Native Flowers and Trees – On this tour you will learn about the value of the natives and learn about the park’s native perennials and trees. The visit begins and ends on the esplanade; 10:30am-11:30am, Zumba in the Park – Enjoy a free Zumba class at Wilcox Park.

Cassie Skobrak is a reference librarian at Westerly Library & Wilcox Park.


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