Juneteenth Proclamation Jubilation

Juneteenth Proclamation Jubilation lesson plan

What took nearly 3 years to travel from Washington, D.C., to Galveston, Texas? Celebrate Juneteenth with a replica of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.

  • 1.

    Today information travels instantaneously. So the idea that an important government announcement took almost 3 years to travel from Washington, D.C., to Galveston, Texas, seems unbelievable. Although Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, the slaves in Texas did not hear that they had been freed until June 19, 1865.

  • 2.

    This announcement prompted spontaneous celebrations in the streets. African Americans celebrate Juneteenth (a combination of June and nineteenth) as a legal holiday in Texas and throughout the United States with parades, prayers, picnics, games, and family gatherings. A reading of the Emancipation Proclamation marks the beginning of many local festivities.

  • 3.

    Look at a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation in a book or on the Internet. It is handwritten on paper that is now old and fragile. Read the entire Emancipation Proclamation. Notice that early documents were not written with a computer or even a ballpoint pen but perhaps a feather or fountain pen nubs.

  • 4.

    Cover your work area with recycled newspaper. To make a replica of the Emancipation Proclamation, first create paper that appears to have aged. On a recycled foam produce tray, mix Crayola® Washable Kid's Paint in multicultural colors to create a light antique color. With a Crayola Paint Brush, cover watercolor paper with the paint. Blot paint with a paper towel to create the mottled look of antique paper. Dry.

  • 5.

    Copy the words of freedom found in the first two paragraphs of the Emancipation Proclamation on the treated paper using Crayola Fine Line Markers. Use a fancy, cursive style of writing.

  • 6.

    Sign the document with a simulated historic writing instrument. Thin brown paint with water until it is the consistency of writing ink. Cut a slanted point on a feather with Crayola Scissors. Dip the feather into the ink and write Lincoln's signature. Bl

  • 7.

    Decorate your historic document by drawing official ribbons and seals with markers.


  • Students gather information about the history of the U.S. holiday Juneteenth.
  • Students understand the historical elements that contributed to the delayed announcement of the emancipation of slaves in Texas.
  • Students recognize the look of authentic historic documents and reproduce a facsimile of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.


  • Create a timeline leading up to emancipation, putting the proclamation into the historical context of the Civil War.
  • Juneteenth remains one of the few U.S. holidays that does not have a commercial component. Identify other non-commercial holidays and speculate on what has protected them from exploitation.
  • A legend tells that Abraham Lincoln's messenger to Texas had an ornery mule and that is why the news took so long to arrive. Debate whether the length of time was intentional or accidental.
  • Plan a Juneteenth parade with appropriate floats, plays, music, and speakers.
  • Older students study the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights to find loopholes which were closed by the Emancipation Proclamation to insure rights for men of all colors. Further study these documents to see that the rights of women were omitted