Joyce Richey never needed to learn about Juneteenth from stories in books. She first heard about the holiday through her own family history.

Each generation shares stories about her great-grandmother, who was born into slavery in Georgia and remained enslaved until nearly two years after the practice was abolished in 1862. Juneteenth, observed every year on June 19, celebrates the end of slavery.

“She said her master did not tell his slaves they were free until the Yankees, as my great-grandmother called them, came and made him tell them,” recalled Richey, associate dean for diversity and inclusion at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “She also said that the Yankees told the plantation owner to give each family of freed slaves 10 acres of land and a whole ham.

“She doesn’t remember receiving any of that. Instead, her father received a hog’s head and no land.”

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