Today’s Doodle, illustrated by father-son artist duo Jerome and Jeromyah Jones, commemorates Juneteenth, an annual federal holiday that celebrates the liberation of Black enslaved people in the United States. On this day in 1865, over 250,000 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas received news of their freedom, marking the official end of the Civil War.
Although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln in early 1863, many Black Americans were kept enslaved in the western-most Confederate states like Texas. General Granger, and his Union troops, marched to Texas and issued General Order No. 3, which announced the news of the Proclamation.
Upon hearing the news, former slaves became free Americans by executive decree, and many migrated north in search of new lives and in hopes of reuniting their families torn apart by slavery. In 1866, thousands traveled back to Galveston on June 19 in recognition of their newfound freedom, calling the gathering Jubilee Day. In 1872, when faced with backlash for their pilgrimage back to the island city, a group of Black Americans purchased 10 acres of land in Houston and named it Emancipation Park. It was devoted specifically as a Juneteenth celebration site and is still around to this day.
Juneteenth became an official state holiday in Texas in 1980. When Juneteenth was officially named a national federal holiday in June 2021, the city of Galveston dedicated a 5,000 square-foot mural titled “Absolute Equality” near the location where General Granger announced the news of freedom.
All throughout the country, Black Americans celebrate Juneteenth with parades, gatherings, and marches that honor the struggles of those who came before and the futures of those who continue to pave the way forward. This year, Juneteenth falls on Father’s Day in the U.S. and today’s Doodle artwork pays homage to this bridge between multiple generations, exploring education, joy, community, and the meaning of emancipation.
Juneteenth is a holiday meant for remembrance and resilience, and a call-to-action for progress towards a more just, unified and equitable nation.
Guest Artist Q&A with Jerome and Jeromyah Jones
Today’s Doodle was illustrated by guest artists Jerome and Jeromyah Jones, a father-son duo based in Virginia. Below, they share their thoughts behind the making of this Doodle:
Q. Why is working on the Juneteenth Doodle meaningful to you?
A. Working on the topic of Juneteenth means a lot to us because it’s a great milestone in the African American struggle for liberation. This notification that our ancestors received 157 years ago is an essential catalyst for contemplating what freedom looks like for us today as a people. The celebration is a special commemoration because it highlights good news for a change that was given to a people who were once in chains.
Q. What is it like working together as father-and-son on projects like this?
A. When we work on pieces like this together our initial sketching is not on the canvas but in our conversations. In a case where we both love the theme it’s exciting having each other on the team. Once we conceive the vision, then there’s the decision on which one of us will paint what images with the brush.
Q. What was your creative process for this artwork?
A. When it comes to the style we used, it was important to us that various age groups feel connected to the way the images are projected. Acrylic and oil paint were our mediums for executing this piece. We used a form of silhouette for the faces so that many could see themselves in these spaces.
Q. Did you draw inspiration from anything in particular for this Doodle?
A. We were inspired by the unity we have witnessed at cultural events over the years, the Sankofa Adinkra symbol of Ghana, the history of the griots, the significance of Father’s Day, and the commonalities we see during this year that the two holidays coincide.
The hand in the background symbolizes the descendants of those who were emancipated on June 19, 1865 and the children of fathers in the generations that follow. The brush is a metaphoric representation of the bridge that connects the roots to their fruits. If we were to give our Google Doodle a title we would call it “Painting in The Footsteps of Our Freedom.” Painting in the footsteps means we are giving color to the past so that the legacy will be visible to every child in class. The red, black, and green Sankofa bird looking back is symbolic of opening the history book in our laps to close the generational gap.
Pictured left-to-right: Jerome and Jeromyah painting today’s Juneteenth Doodle