Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom

Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom


Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom

In celebration of Juneteenth, we invite you to browse some of the rarest, earliest, and most important works of African American and Civil Rights leaders literature currently in our collection.


Rare original typographic portrait of Abraham Lincoln composed of his Emancipation Proclamation.


January 1st, 1863: President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed in his famous Emancipation Proclamation, “that all persons held as slaves are, and henceforward shall be free.” This paved the trajectory and goal of the Union Army against the Confederate States in the Civil War. When the war was won by the Union, the United States would officially adopt the proclamation to rebuild the country and its new ideals of freedom and equality. 

The Civil War’s resolution marked a new beginning in the history of the United States of America.  News of this spread throughout the nation but not everyone was delighted with the outcome. Roughly two months after the surrendering of the Confederacy, federal troops marched upon Texas to proclaim the news that slavery was no longer accepted in any part of the nation. June 19th, 1865, has since become a significant date and was designated a Federal holiday by President Joe Biden on June 17, 2021 as a day to celebrate all individuals and their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Abraham Lincoln issued The Emancipation Proclamation, or Proclamation 95, on January 1st, 1865. The executive order changed the federal legal status of more than 3.5 million enslaved African Americans from slave to free and made the abolition of slavery an explicit goal of the Union war effort. To ensure emancipation, Lincoln pushed for the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, and insisted that Reconstruction plans for Southern states require abolition in new state constitutions. Congress passed the 13th Amendment by the necessary two-thirds vote on January 31, 1865, and it was ratified by the states on December 6, 1865, ending legal slavery.


Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story; Inscribed By Martin Luther King, Jr. To Julius Kiano.


Today, Juneteenth is a day used to recognize and take note of exemplary individuals and their fights for freedom. Martin Luther King Jr., being an outspoken advocate for his fellow Americans, showcases the essence of this ideal.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s book Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story recounts the first successful nonviolent resistance in American History. In it, his desire for equality and the human right to safety and security that a country offers to its other citizens becomes obvious to any reader. The people of Montgomery, subjected to bigotry, decided to boycott the bus system of their town. This nonviolent approach was followed due to the morals the people upheld and how it was “the essence of active Christianity.” 

This was Dr. King’s first book, the first of many, and he gifted the particular first edition below to his friend Julias Kiano, notably the first Kenyan to earn a PhD. Being controversial in the fifties, King and his editors made every effort to make sure that the book was clear, to the point, and made no room for out of context quotes to be used by adversaries. Released on September 17, 1958, Stride Toward Freedom showcases a different approach to equality for all. One that upholds morality, dignity, and self respect.


First Edition of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?; Inscribed By Him.


In his third book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? an older Mr. King, after witnessing the Civil Rights movement in action for a decade, asks the question where does this leave us? Living in a rented Jamaica home at the time of its writing, Dr. King’s last book became one of his most controversial publications to date. Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? assesses where the Civil Rights movement is headed. King, in a more constructive voice than found in earlier writings, describes the long journey ahead for true equality.


First Edition of Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue With Today’s Youth; Signed By Her.


Rosa Parks, a member of the Montgomery bus boycott, also became a prominent figure in the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s. The simple act of sitting on a bus sparked a movement in her local community of Montgomery, Alabama. Mrs. Parks’ conscious decision spoke volumes without her even uttering a word. She presented herself as an activist for justice and impartiality.

In a set of letters gathered from over the years and coordinated with Gregory J. Reed, Rosa Parks put out a book entitled Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue with Today’s Youth. In it, she corresponds with many children discussing her life of activism and speaks from the heart on why the present can determine the future. ‘The Mother of the Civil Rights Movement’ exemplified many traits that many individuals can look upon with respect and awe.


“The Rebirth Of The Soul Is Perpetual; Only Rebirth Every Hour Could Stay The Hand Of Satan”: First Edition Of Go Tell It On The Mountain; Inscribed By James Baldwin To His Mother.


Considered his first major work, Go Tell It On The Mountain, was written by the well known American activist and essayist James Baldwin. Born in Harlem, New York, Baldwin grew to become a prevalent voice for civil rights, but unlike others known for their physical actions, his strength came from his pen. 

This American classic takes from Baldwin’s real world experiences, and details the life of a Harlem preacher’s son and the struggles and identity crisis that came along with it. It mirrors Baldwin’s own life as he received much criticism and backlash, not only for his race, but for his sexuality. Becoming tired of the discrimination he received, Baldwin travelled to Paris where he lived and wrote about the upheaval happening in America at the time. A wildfire of inspiration such as the Civil Rights Movement and its key players, Baldwin wrote many novels such as Go tell it on the Mountain. More strikingly than his other works, the story deals with the social issues and racism that an African American teenager of that day constantly encountered. Baldwin wrote with passion for the subject and was an outspoken figure up until his death in 1987.


“I Was Very Happy To Hear That You Are Going To Be A Mother, Be Allah Willing”: Rare Typed Letter Signed By Civil Rights Leader Malcolm X To His Wife.


In addition to these fine books of early American activists, our collection also includes the rare letter above signed by Malcom X, another notable Civil Rights activist, to his wife, Betty Shabazz. Known as a minister of the Islamic faith and a Civil Rights Activist, Malcolm X demanded that the same rights offered to white Americans be offered to African Americans. His ideals in his adult life were heavily influenced by the Nation of Islam, which was an African American activist group with strong ties to the Islamic faith. Throughout his life, he upheld his beliefs to the utmost of his ability. He is quoted saying, “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.”

Malcolm X showcased a firm belief system that he lived out in every sense of the word up until his assassination in 1965. Since then he has become a hero for many African Americans and a statue of him has since been erected in the city of his famous Freedom rally and his ultimate death: Harlem, New York.

Read more about civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. here and browse our complete selection of first edition pieces written by renowned civil rights leaders here.

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