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"On Juneteenth": Historian Annette Gordon-Reed's New Ode To The Emancipation Celebration

Annette Gordon-Reed is the Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of History at Harvard University. She won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in History, the 2008 National Book Award and 14 other prizes for her book, "The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family" (W.W. Norton, 2008). (photo by Tony Rinaldo)

On June 19th, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3 in Galveston, Texas, declaring that all slaves were free, two months after Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in Appomattox, Virginia, ending the Civil War.

Tom's guest today is the author and historian, Annette Gordon-Reed. She has written a beautiful peroration on the meaning of the holiday that marks the anniversary of that event. It is at once an homage to her home state of Texas and a wholly original and fascinating exploration of how history and legend and myth all shape what we learn when we’re young, how our understanding evolves as we grow older, and how social dynamics inform the evolution of societal understanding as well.

On Juneteenth book jacket.jpg
Liveright/W.W. Norton & Company

Professor Reed writes with erudition and grace, authority and humility, weaving a touching personal memoir into the stark reality of a harsh historical record.

The book is called On Juneteenth. The author spoke about it with Tom on June 11th. Because our conversation was recorded earlier, we can’t take any calls or comments.

Annette Gordon-Reed joined us on our digital line from her home in New York.

For a roundup of the many ways Juneteenth is being celebrated in Maryland, follow this link to an excellent piece in the Baltimore Sun.

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Rob is Midday's senior producer.