In celebration of the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, Google has produced a video Doodle set to the first verse of the poem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” often called “The Black National Anthem.” It’s a 90 second piece of rousing animation that honors the end of slavery in the US. The video features art from artist Loveis Wise, music produced by Elijah Jamal, and the poem is read by LeVar Burton.
Although slavery officially ended with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, it wasn’t until June 19th, 1865 that the federal order reached Galveston, Texas on the western edge of the Confederacy. Juneteenth is shorthand for “June Nineteenth.”
“This is an American story about freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and I hope that in these brown faces many Americans can see themselves,” said Google’s Angelica McKinley, the Doodle’s lead art director in an accompanying video describing its creation.
The Doodle is just one of the ways Google is celebrating Juneteenth this year. Earlier this month it added the day as a holiday in the United States in Google Calendar, and the company also says it’s added new Google Assistant responses to questions like “Hey Google, what’s Juneteenth?” Google Arts & Culture has a new exhibit on the historical legacy of Juneteenth made in partnership with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History, and YouTube Music has a playlist titled Juneteenth: Freedom Songs featuring artists like Beyonce and Bob Marley. Google Earth has also been updated to include satellite imagery of the Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, DC.
Although Juneteenth is a significant moment in US history, it is not currently designated as an official federal holiday, although most states now recognize it. It’s an especially significant date this year, following weeks of protests against racism and police brutality in the country.