Today’s Doodle, illustrated by Detroit-based guest artist Rachelle Baker, honors Juneteenth, an annual federal holiday celebrating the liberation of Black enslaved people in the United States. On this day in 1865, enslaved people in Galveston, Texas received news of the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order that mandated the end of slavery in Confederate states during the American Civil War.
Despite its passage on January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation remained opposed for years by several states still under Confederate control. Texas represented the westernmost edge of the Confederate territories and was thus among the American regions with the least Union presence. It was in the Lone Star State’s port town of Galveston that some 1,800 Union troops finally arrived to establish Union authority on June 19, 1865.
Here, the now-famous “General Orders, Number 3” was dispatched, which proclaimed the end of slavery to over 250,000 Black Texans. Although this decree did not guarantee immediate independence or equality for Texas’s Black community, an unprecedented freedom and civil rights movement followed in its wake–the legacy of which persists today.
Today’s Doodle artwork celebrates joy within the Black community, as well as the perseverance foundational to this journey toward liberation. With each letter, the Doodle transitions from historical Juneteenth parades to modern-day traditions such as education through storytelling, outdoor gatherings with family and friends, and commemorative festivals and parades. These scenes of celebration and community are brightened by bluebonnets—the state flower of Texas—and forget-me-nots that are layered upon backgrounds of decorative ironwork commonly found on buildings throughout the southern states. This ironwork highlights the often forgotten contributions made by enslaved Black Americans and symbolizes their strength and resilience.
While Juneteenth recognizes over a century and a half of progress, it also reminds Americans to continue to build a more equitable and unified nation.
Guest Artist Q&A with Rachelle Baker
Today’s Doodle was illustrated by Detroit-based guest artist Rachelle Baker. Below, she shares her thoughts behind the making of this Doodle:
Q. What was your creative process for this Doodle artwork?
A. I looked at tons of photos and art illustrating some of the first ever Juneteenth celebration, as well as celebrations, parades, and festivities from recent years. I also read about specific symbols, foods, colors, and activities that were and continue to be important in celebrating and commemorating this holiday.
Q. Did you draw inspiration from anything in particular for this Doodle?
A. I was inspired by family photo albums (and my family getting together for special occasions to celebrate each other), intaglio prints, and illuminated letters.
Early concepts and sketches of the Doodle below