Shavuot to Juneteenth

Shavuot to Juneteenth: A Journey Toward Liberation


The holiday of Shavuot marks the giving of the Torah to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, seven weeks after the biblical exodus from slavery in Egypt. One week after we observe Shavuot, we celebrate the Federal Holiday Juneteenth which marks the emancipation from slavery in the U.S. We invite you to participate in “Shavuot to Juneteenth: A Journey Toward Liberation” in multiple ways onsite and online.

Our “Journey Toward Liberation” will begin at Temple Israel’s Tikkun Zoom Shavuot on June 11 with several learning sessions offered on the theme of “Shavuot to Juneteenth.”

During the period of time between Shavuot and Juneteenth we recommend that you read, watch, listen, or visit any or all of the following experiences, films, podcasts, playlists, and books.

See the list of experiences, films, podcasts, playlists, and books


"Embrace Boston"

Embrace Boston sculpture in the Boston CommonThe “Embrace Boston” memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King at 139 Tremont Street on the Boston Common in Boston, aims to connect, educate, and energize communities across traditional borders to cultivate the conditions necessary for racial and economic justice in Boston. If you are not able to see the “Embrace Boston,” you can visit online and enjoy the digital experience.

The Museum of African American History

The Abiel Smith School (1835) is the oldest public school in the United States that was built for the sole purpose of educating African American children. Its walls tell the story of abolition and equal education. Located steps away from the Massachusetts State House, the Abiel Smith School currently houses first-class exhibit galleries, education programs, and a museum store filled with books and inspired gifts. Learn more about the Museum of African American History.

The Black Heritage Trail of Boston

The Black Heritage Trail is an approximately 1.5-mile-long trail linking sites that explore the trials of the free Black community that inhabited the North Slope of Beacon Hill from the late 18th century through the 19th century.

The Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts has free admission on Juneteenth. We recommend “Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield South Carolina.”

Institute of Contemporary Art Boston

Institute of Contemporary Art Boston includes many recommended exhibits, such as:

  • Artist Simone Leigh centers the experiences of Black women and Black feminist thought. 
  • Poss Family Mediatheque features a library of resources on Black feminism, in partnership with Frugal Bookstore — Boston’s only Black-owned bookstore.  
  • Audio responses to selected works in the exhibitions by students of Spelman College’s AUC Art History + Curatorial Studies Collective will be available in the Mediatheque and on the ICA’s Digital Guide on Bloomberg Connects. 
  • Boston-based artist Elisa Hamilton’s participatory installation “Can You See Me?” invites visitors to reflect on identity through image and what we choose to share about ourselves.


"Frederick Douglass: In Five Speeches"

While his legacy is undeniable as an author and orator, Frederick Douglass’ provocative speeches were never recorded. Produced by acclaimed historian Henry Louis Gates Jr., and directed by Julia Marchese, “Frederick Douglass: In Five Speeches” aims to bring the legendary abolitionist’s words to life. (58 minutes; HBO / Max.)

"Eyes on the Prize"

Created by Henry Hampton and narrated by political activist Julian Bond, “Eyes on the Prize,” a documentary series about the “glory years” of the civil rights movement from 1955 to 1965, covers everything from the murder of Emmett Till to the Little Rock school riots to the Montgomery, Alabama transit boycott. Perspectives from Coretta Scott King, Kwame Ture, Alabama governor George Wallace, and other figures who have passed since filming make this view of that era all the more valuable. (Each episode is about 55 minutes;

Listen: Podcasts

Good Trouble! 

Sponsored by King Boston and the Massachusetts Budget & Policy Center, “Good Trouble!” (podcast) lifts up the stories of the people fighting the good fight today. Hosted by Gregory Ball, director of content and production at King Boston, and Reginauld Williams, director of communications at MassBudget. You can listen on Apple Music and other platforms, as well as the site.

Code Switch

NPR (National Public Radio)

“The fearless conversations about race that you’ve been waiting for. Hosted by journalists of color, our podcast tackles the subject of race with empathy and humor. This podcast makes us all part of the conversation—because we’re all part of the story.”

Listen to Code Switch on NPR.

Black American History Crash Course

Over a span of 50 episodes, Clint Smith teaches about the experience of Black people in America, from the arrival of the first enslaved Black people at Jamestown to the Black Lives Matter movement. You can listen to “Black American History Crash Course” on Spotify and other platforms.

Listen: Music

Juneteenth playlists

Various Juneteenth playlists — just type in the word “Juneteenth” on Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube.

Aretha Franklin – Amazing Grace: The Complete Recordings

Curated by Renee Graham.

Find it on Spotify.

Leontyne Price Sings Spirituals

Leontyne Price, 1997

Find it on Spotify here.

The Essential Nina Simone

Compilation, 2011 (includes “Mississippi Goddam,” “Strange Fruit,” “I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free”)

Find it on Spotify.


The Juneteenth Story: Celebrating the End of Slavery in the United States

The Story of Juneteenth book coverBecker & Mayer, 2022
By Alliah L. Agostini 

Alliah L. Agostini grew up in Buffalo, NewYork, where her grandfather co-founded the city’s Juneteenth Festival in 1976. In her new picture book, “The Juneteenth Story: Celebrating the End of Slavery in the United States,” the author pays tribute to her grandfather’s legacy (the Buffalo Juneteenth Festival is now one of the largest in the nation) and brings to life the Emancipation story for young readers.

How to Raise an Antiracist

(One World, 2022)
By Ibram X. Kendi

This long-awaited follow-up to “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi, founding director of BU’s Center for Antiracist Research and BU’s Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities, has been released in time for Juneteenth 2022. Kendi’s latest book, “How to Raise an Antiracist,” focuses on how individuals can foster growth and analysis among their own families, drawing on his trademark blend of research and personal experience.


 (The Dial Press, 2022)
By Tara M. Stringfellow

In her debut novel, “Memphis,” Tara M. Stringfellow weaves the personal and political into a family drama spanning three generations of Black women. Memphis, site of the famous April 3, 1968, “I Have Been to the Mountaintop” speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59) and his assasination one day later, is also the ancestral home of Stringfellow’s fictional North family and their private triumphs and sorrows.

On Juneteenth

 (W.W. Norton, 2021)
By Annette Gordon-Reed

Weaving together American history, dramatic family chronicle, and searing episodes of memoir, Annette Gordon-Reed’s “On Juneteenth” provides a historian’s view of the country’s long road to Juneteenth, recounting both its origins in Texas and the enormous hardships that African-Americans have endured in the century since, from Reconstruction through Jim Crow and beyond.

Koshersoul: The Faith and Food Journey of An African American Jew

Koshersoul by Michael W. Twitty book cover with a picture of the  author seated at a table with very brightly colored loaves of challah(HarperCollins, 2022)
By Michael Twitty

In “Koshersoul: The Faith and Food Journey of An African American Jew,” Michael W. Twitty considers the marriage of two of the most distinctive culinary cultures in the world today: the foods and traditions of the African Atlantic and the global Jewish diaspora. To Twitty, the creation of African-Jewish cooking is a conversation of migrations and a dialogue of diasporas offering a rich background for inventive recipes and the people who create them.