4 Things You Need to Be Reading This Juneteenth


As of June 17, 2021, Juneteenth has been officially recognized as a federal holiday by the United States.

A commemoration of the freeing of 250,000 slaves in Galveston, Texas in 1865, Juneteenth is a day of celebration for Black Americans and a time of reflection for all Americans.

Recognizing the need to create more intentional platforms for shared knowledge about our history in general, the NeuroLeadership Institute’s Your Brain at Work Live recently held a special webinar examining Juneteenth from a historical and contemporary context and extending the opportunity to enable conversations that can lead to new insights on who we are and all we hope to be.

During the webinar, our esteemed panelists shared some resources that they have found to be useful and reflective of their experience being Black Americans.


Dr. Lila Ammons, Associate Professor at Howard University

“From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin and Evelyn Higginbotham – 9th Edition

Why she recommends it: “If you want an in-depth understanding of the African-American experience, and our global experience, this is a great book to start with.”


John Edwards, Senior Client Strategist at NLI

“High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America”, a Netflix Documentary Series

Why he recommends it: “It is about the remarkable influence of Black American and African foods in the history of this country. You’re going to learn a bit more about resilience and contemporary issues that our population currently faces. So no matter what your background or history is, you’re going to discover some very fascinating insights from this program.”

Khalil Smith, Vice President of Inclusion, Diversity, and Engagement at Akamai

“The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander

Why he recommends it: “It is such an insightful dig into understanding how mass incarceration, over-policing, and sentencing have extremely negative implications for an entire population. I think many folks can sometimes go into a place of individual responsibility and ‘If you just don’t do bad things, everything will be fine’. And yet when you start to really uncover and understand some of the institutionalized over-policing, it is incredibly powerful. It’s a fluid and easy-to-understand read.”

Janet Stovall, Senior Client Strategist at NLI

“How the Word is Passed” by Clint Smith

Why she recommends it: “This book just came out. It talks about monuments and landmarks, and what he’s talking about is literally how the word has passed. How the story of slavery and Black America is told. Some of it true, and some of it not, as is the nature of storytelling and oral history. There is a chapter about Juneteenth, and he also talks about plantation recreations and how the narrative is written through these monuments and different landmarks. It starts in New Orleans and goes across the country. It is a fascinating read that I highly recommend”.

Author: Malia Thomas

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