Juneteenth Through The Years

History Behind Juneteenth

Sheryl’s Take

Juneteenth was officially declared a holiday in 2021 (better late than never, right?). But are we even all on the same page about what Juneteenth celebrates? That’s where we enlisted the help of my dear friend, Sheryl, to help educate us. Here’s the post: On Juneteenth By Sheryl Garner Ellsworth. In it she explains the history behind the holiday, its significance, and what that should mean for us today. If you’re eager to learn more about this important holiday, I would highly recommend reading Sheryl’s essay. It’s both thoughtful and instructive.

Here is another ode to Sheryl and her amazing work educating people about this important holiday.

Reading List

If you’re interested in more resources, you might want to check out our Juneteenth Reading List! We’ve compiled a list of books for both kids and adults. It’s a great place to start if you want to educate yourself and your children more fully.

So why does this holiday matter? As Sheryl so brilliantly put it, “the end of slavery is a joyous moment that should be celebrated by all not only Black people.”

Sheryl Garner holds a red velvet cake and smiles at the camera. She's wearing a black top and a gold necklace.

More Inspiration

Black History Month Booklist For Kids, Alma Thomas: Black History Month Kickoff, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Oh, and here’s the direct link to our Martin Luther King Jr. quote!

Black History Month Booklist for Kids


Book and Movie Lists For Kids and Teens

We’ve compiled four lists. So I guess you could say it’s more than just a black history month booklist for kids. The four lists are: books for kids, books for teens, movies for kids, and movies for teens. Now obviously this list is not comprehensive, but it’s a good place to start if you need some recommendations. And if you have recommendations for us, let us know in the comments! Let’s all help each other fill in the gaps in our knowledge of black history. I’m right there with all of you wanting to understand these racial issues better and help our kids do the same.

Books For Kids

  • Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
  • Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History
  • Hair Love
  • Schomburg: the man who built a library
  • Mufaro’s beautiful daughters
  • Sulwe
  • Your name is a song
  • I got school spirit
  • You matter
  • A history of me

Books For Teens

  • To Kill a Mockingbird (Caveat: Not a black author, but the content is so relevant we had to add it to the list)
  • The Color Purple
  • I Know why the caged bird sings
  • Cry, the beloved country
  • The Hate U Give
  • Dear Martin

Movies/Shows for Kids

  • Soul (pixar)
  • The Princess and the Frog
  • Garrett’s Gift
  • Reading Rainbow
  • Dancing in the Light: The Janet Collins Story
  • The Journey of Henry Box Brown

Movies/Shows for Teens

  • Self Made (2020)
  • Harriet
  • Hidden Figures
  • Selma
  • Just Mercy
  • The Hate U Give (movie version of the book we recommended above!)
  • Belle (2013)
  • Marshall (2017)

More Resources

For more ideas on what to read and watch for Black History Month, see our Juneteenth Reading List! There’s a little overlap, but lots of ideas to get you started.

Alma Thomas: Black History Month Kickoff

Who Is Alma Thomas?

Alma Thomas

Back in 2020, we dedicated a blog post to Alma Thomas, which you can read here. Long story short, she was an amazingly talented black artist, famous for her mosaic-like technique for painting. Her story is amazing, and we’d recommend reading the unabridged version in our blog post here.

What Does the Course Include?

For a complete list and the link to the Alma Thomas class itself, click here. If you’d like, you can also purchase the full course here, which gives you access to courses featuring six different historical artists, including Alma Thomas, Rembrandt, Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Claude Monet, and Michelangelo. Don’t forget to use the code ALMA50 for a 50% discount on the Alma Thomas course! It’s available for the entire month of February.

Inspired By Alma Thomas

Alma Thomas was a genius when it came to color. Want to be inspired by her in what you wear, but aren’t sure where to start? Here are some clothing items to get you started, as well as some accessories, if you’re not quite bold enough to wear all the colors of the rainbow in one statement piece. Adding a small pop of color can really transform an outfit.

Here are a few crafts you can make in honor of black history month and Alma Thomas:

Heirloom Plush Dolls

These Heirloom Plush Dolls are a fun way to decorate and remember that it’s black history month. They’re a jazzy, creative twist on our Family Heirloom Ornaments.

Alma Thomas Paper Dolls

Alma Thomas Paper Dolls are another interactive way to celebrate black history month. They’re a great way to teach your kids about black history while crafting at the same time!

Other Black Creatives

We hope you’ll treat this month as a learning opportunity and be inspired by the black creatives all around you. Alma Thomas is a great icon, but there are other ways to get involved during black history month as well.

Books, Movies and Shows

In this post, we compiled a list of black-authored books to read that are both eye-opening and engaging. It’s a great place to start if you have a goal to be more informed about black history this month. Bonus: if you’re more of a screens person, that same post also includes some really great movies and shows by black creatives.

If you’re not familiar with many black creatives, here‘s a list we complied a while back with some of our favorites. You can also check out this post, where you can learn how to make your own heirloom ornaments featuring your favorite black creatives.


If you’re interested in getting to know some different artists of color, this post is for you. We compiled a list of interviews with some of our favorite artists of color. We loved getting to know them and what they do!

Black-Owned Businesses

Here are some amazing products we love from black designers. This is a great way to support black makers.

Happy Black History Month! We’d love to know: what are you doing in honor of Black History Month?


Martin Luther King Jr. Day

MLK-Courtesy of Time Magazine
MONTGOMERY, AL – MARCH 25: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking before crowd of 25,000 Selma To Montgomery, Alabama civil rights marchers, in front of Montgomery, Alabama state capital building. On March 25, 1965 in Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo by Stephen F. Somerstein/Getty Images)

What we’re learning

Acknowledge Your Position of Privilege

Sometimes it’s so hard to admit that your way of seeing things isn’t the eternally correct way to see things. Speaking from a very non-expert position here, something I’ve been told many times and learned over the years is that when talking about discrimination and race, it is absolutely critical to acknowledge your position of privilege. Who’s in a position of privilege? Anyone whose ancestors were not discriminated against due to race. And anyone who is currently not discriminated against due to race. Note: obviously there are other modes of discrimination besides just race, but we want to specifically highlight racial discrimination as a way to honor Martin Luther King Jr. on his day.

Acknowledging that your world view has flaws can be embarrassingly difficult at times. I can say from experience that it’s not very comfortable to realize you’ve been living in a bubble created by your own biases. But it’s even more difficult for those whose position of non-privilege has been compromised. It’s difficult to change, but I’m setting a goal this year to make an effort to look past my own biases and see things through others’ eyes. I want to be more sensitive to others’ experiences and then try to break out of my own complacency.

Be Informed

I’ll be the first to admit that I am far from an expert on the topic of civil rights, especially with respect to race. Martin Luther King Jr. was far more of an expert than I am (and far more eloquent)! So I’m not here to preach about the very little I do know. What I’ve learned, though, is that it is much more beneficial to admit my own ignorance and seek to learn more.

Here are some resources to get you started if you’re interested in learning more:

Last year on Juneteenth, we compiled a list of books, movies and shows to highlight black creators. See our list here! It’s definitely not comprehensive, but it’s something to get you started.

Juneteenth Reading list

Also included in that same article are links to a few of our favorite black creatives, as well as an essay with lists of places to learn more and donate.

Here and here are a few more articles about Juneteenth, but we feel that they’re absolutely appropriate for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as we try to become more informed about everything he fought and died for.


It doesn’t all end with reading a bunch of books to feel good about yourself (saying this to remind myself, too)! If Martin Luther King Jr. has taught us anything, it is that making change requires action.

How we’re trying to help

Empower BIPOC Creators

We’re not perfect, and this is not the “look at all the good I’m doing” brag portion of this post. I see it more as an opportunity to be accountable. We’re sharing some things we’re trying to do to not just learn more, but do more to actively support those around us who may have less opportunities and privileges than we do.



We’re doing our best to be informed as we strive towards this goal. A way we feel that we can make a difference is by supporting the BIPOC makers in our community and around the U.S. through our donations. We’ve partnered with Nest, an amazing charitable organization, to give those makers opportunities that have been limited in the past. We hope to continue to do our part going forward. It’s not a perfect way of helping, but it is something small we can do to contribute to making a society that’s more loving and focused on stamping out inequality and discrimination.

Brittany in Nepal

Specifically, we loved the opportunity to use crafting as a way to donate to Nest. This past year, as you may be aware, we hosted a Nativity craft along. You can read more about it here, here and here. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of your donations and thrilled to help Nest in their cause. If you’re interested in learning more about Nest, you can visit their website. Also, check out this post, and this one.

To Help You Remember Martin Luther King Jr.

Only in the darkness quote

In order to help you remember Martin Luther King Jr. and to honor him this year on his day, here’s a print with one of his many poignant quotes. We’re donating 100% of net profits from the download to Nest. An additional 15% of net profits of all prints including mats and frames will be applied.

Kid’s Toys: Lars Shop Highlight

What is Eeboo?

We couldn’t tell you about our Eeboo kid’s toys without introducing the company’s incredible background. First of all, women and mothers run this company. I mean, who knows kid’s toys better than mothers? I love how thoughtful these toys are. They make board games, watercolor sets, puzzles, and so much more. (You can find them here!) It just goes to show how the experience of being a mother influences their ability to understand children’s brains and what they need. And need I mention that they have the awards (Oppenheim best toy awards and honors) to prove it?

kid's toys

kid's toys

Encouraging development in children

One amazing aspect of Eeboo as a company is their focus on developmental learning in kid’s toys. They help kids develop skills like literacy, storytelling, drawing, imaginative play, and basic math. I mean, could I be more impressed? Kid’s toys that help their development while also helping them have fun? I can say from experience that it can definitely be a challenge to get kids to want to settle down when they’re feeling wild. And you can forget concentrating on learning things like math. So to have kid’s toys that are fun, interactive, and help make learning fun is a dream come true.

kid's toys


At Eeboo, the goal with their kid’s toys is to integrate learning and play in a screen-free way. This is so important (and need I say refreshing?) when we all have screens coming out our ears! It’s hard to get away, and these kid’s toys are a really beautiful way to succeed at it.

Commissioned illustrators

They also commission all their artwork from well-known and well-loved illustrators. It shows, too! The illustrations make their kid’s toys feel so fresh and original–artwork straight from the source. And friends, these illustrations are beautiful. They are delicate, detailed, and full of personality. Need I add that they are colorful and bright? They’re just what every child needs to stay interested and engaged.

Look at the illustrations on these watercolors and paper! Incredible, right? They’d make the perfect gift for a rainy afternoon to get those creative juices flowing.

kid's toyskid's toys

Care and dedication

I’d have to say one of my favorite things about these Eeboo kid’s toys is the care and dedication they give to their customers. They even have a booklet that talks about their values and priorities. I mean, come on! They go to great efforts to be sustainable, respect diversity, value design, and so much more.

I just keep dreaming about the things I would have done if I’d had these toys as a kid. I love how these building blocks promote creativity and imaginative play, for instance.

kid's toys

If you haven’t caught on by now, I am in love with these kid’s toys and can’t wait for Jasper (and eventually Felix) to start playing with them! Click here to get to our whole Eeboo shop collection. If you also fell in love while reading this, you’ll probably also love these other favorites: Kid’s art kit, Op art paper mobile, Thanksgiving coloring placemats, and quilted dog book plate.

Our favorite Gee’s Bend Quilts

I’m excited to share the Gee’s Bend Quilts with you because it’s old news that I’m obsessed with quilted things and the rich heritage related to quilting. You’ve seen my quilted coat fascination (on more than one occasion), the coat that I enlisted Romy of Sew Like Romy to make for me last year, the quilted eye mask that I made from some of the extra pieces, and you’ve found out about the big feelings people have about repurposing quilts. I even quilted a patchwork bandana and scrunchie this spring. I know, I know, we get it! Lars loves quilts!

Gee’s Bend History

Gee’s Bend is a small, Black community surrounded by the Alabama River where families have been passing down a quilting tradition since their enslaved foremothers, who lived on the local Pettway Plantation. repurposed whatever material they had access to into colorful quilts. At different points in history the Gee’s Bend quilters have used deadstock corduroy and discarded work clothes in their work.

Gee’s Bend quilts have gained a reputation for being some of the most vibrant, artistically boundary-bending quilts in the American art tradition. They remind me of some of the best Modernist paintings in that the Gee’s Bend quilts are full of color, geometry, and an acknowledgement of the human hand.


Even though the Gee’s Bend quilts are now acknowledged as a vital part of American art history, many of the quilters aren’t consistently paid their worth. When I realized that you can buy Gee’s Bend Quilts directly from the artists on Etsy I knew I had to share! So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite Gee’s Bend quilts and quiltmakers!


You can read about lots of the individual quiltmakers here. I love reading up on each artist’s story and seeing the ways that their families have passed on quilting traditions. For example, here’s a quilt by Amelia Bennett, who used to quilt with her neighbors and passed her legacy on to her daughter Sally Bennett Jones.

A multicolored quilt made of concentric squares and rectangles.
Amelia Bennet, Housetop 12-Block Variation, photo by Stephen Pitkin

Many of the living Gee’s Bend artists have work available on Etsy. I’ve linked to each individual artist’s shop, so click on their names for more!

Sharon Williams

Katie Mae

Doris Pettway Moseley

Doris Pettway Hackets

Caster Pettway

Lou Ida

Emma Pettway

Claudia Pettway Charley

Stella Mae


Mary Margaret Pettway

Kristin Pettway

Loretta Pettway Bennett

I love the ingenuity of these Gee’s Bend quilted masks!

I would love to hear about your favorite artists, especially Black artists whose work you’re loving! Let me know in the comments!

And if you’re interested in supporting women makers around the world like those of Gee’s Bend, consider donating to Nest.

Juneteenth Reading List

This week on The House that Lars Built we’re getting ready for Juneteenth by celebrating some of our favorite Black creators, artists, and thinkers. We put our heads together as members of Team Lars and came up with this (definitely NOT comprehensive) Juneteenth reading list of books, movies, and shows.

We’ve included materials for kids and for adults, and we also recognize that some of the material here might not be for all audiences. Because our world’s history of oppression and violence against Black people is challenging, it would be disingenuous not to include challenging materials in our Juneteenth reading list. While we urge you to use your judgement in finding something from this list that is a good fit for you, we also want to underscore how important it is to take in media that stretches us, even if we sometimes feel uncomfortable.

We hope you take the time to read or watch something from our Juneteenth reading list and that in addition to learning you also bask in some beautiful Black joy. Black lives matter, Black joy matters, Black futures matter, and Black art matters!

Reading List

Books for Kids

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry coverA quilted illustration from Tar BeachHarriet gets Carried Away cover

Bunheads coverThank You, Omu coverSaturday cover

Magnificent Homespun Brown coverThe Old Truck Cover

Tallulah The Tooth Fairy CEO coverParker Looks Up coverYou Matter cover

Books for Adults

Me and White Supremacy coverWhen They Call You a Terrorist coverThe Color of Law cover

Becoming coverBetween the World and Me coverThe Color of Water cover

Bad Feminist coverI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings cover

Beloved coverCry, the Beloved Country coverThe Vanishing Half cover

Sing, Unburied, Sing coverLife on Mars coverThe Hate U Give coverThe Color Purple Cover

Watch List

If you can’t fit in time to read a book this week, consider watching one of these shows by Black creators.

Movies and Shows for Kids and Teens

  • Reading Rainbow by Lavar Burton
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air by Andy and Susan Borowitz
  • Sister Sister starring Tia and Tamera Mowry

Movies and Shows for Adults

  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (based on the book listed above!)
  • Atlanta by Donald Glover
  • High on the Hog hosted by Stephen Satterfield
  • Pose by Steven Canals, Brad Falchuk, and Ryan Murphy
  • The Last Black Man in San Francisco
  • BlacKkKlansman directed by Spike Lee
  • The Underground Railroad directed by Barry Jenkins
  • Moonlight directed by Barry Jenkins
  • Lovecraft Country by Misha Green
  • Mr. Church by Bruce Beresford
A tall Black man and a Black woman walk through a street market in Benin.
From High on the Hog (Netflix)

As we’ve put this list together we keep realizing that we know we’re going to miss things and leave glaring holes in this list. Still, we wanted to share some of our favorites. I would love to hear what your favorite books and movies by Black creators are, so let me know in the comments.

If you like this article, you may also like:

Have you heard of bookshop.org? It’s a great place to buy books and support small, independent booksellers! As an affiliate partner of bookshop.org, The House that Lars Built will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you buy any books from this list. 

A Message From a Current Lars Intern: Love in the Time of Hate


It was inevitable,begins Gabriel García Marquez in Love in the Time of Cholera. The most prominent theme in the novel conveys the potential for human emotions becoming like a deadly plague. While García tells of love plaguing characters during a cholera epidemic, our current situation with a global pandemic has created its own havoc in social, economic, and personal affairs. People wanted to blame someone and blame eventually became hate. Emotions trumped reason and hate turned into violence. Blaming came easier than finding solutions. Hating came easier than love. 

With a surge of hate crimes and senseless violence and killings, in a time of hate, how can we love? In a time of violence and murder, how can we forgive?

The Good Samaritan

I am reminded of a familiar parable that Jesus tells in the Bible called “The Good Samaritan.” Before the story begins, a lawyer (also known as a Scribe) asked Jesus about how to inherit eternal life. Jesus in response asked him what the scriptures stated. The lawyer answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus affirmed that by doing so one will live. The lawyer, trying to justify himself in proving that he followed the laws, asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

If you are not familiar, “The Good Samaritan” tells the story of a Jewish man who was traveling and fell among robbers. They stripped and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. The first person who encountered the beaten man was a priest. The priest, who was supposed to be an example of godly behavior, saw the man and passed by at a distance. Then a Levite, who was also supposed to be a godly man, saw the beaten man and he too passed by on the other side. Finally, a Samaritan saw the man and felt compassion. He bandaged the man’s wounds and transported him to an inn making sure he received care, not sparing any cost. Jesus asked, “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?’ and the lawyer responded, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same” (Luke 10:25-37). 

The Good Samaritan (1849) by Eugene Delacroix

Loving People Who Are Different

It is important to know that Samaritans were basically mortal enemies with the Jews. They saw each other as a different race with clashing values, customs, and cultures which consequently led to prejudiced hate. The fact that Jesus told the lawyer to love like the Samaritan, and moreover, to love his Samaritan neighbors, were hard lessons for the lawyer. It is easy to love those who look like us, who live like us, and who love us in return, but how easy is it to love those who are unfamiliar and different. In particular, it is difficult to love those we consider our enemies. And why should we? 

If we know anything about the patterns of this world, we at least know this: hate promotes more hate, more violence, and more death. We have recently witnessed how scattered hate crimes encouraged a surge of hate crimes worldwide. In order to overcome and rise above the hate we see so blatantly today, we must love. As revealed in the parable, if we find ourselves in the position of a passerby or an onlooker to those beaten to the ground, we must love like the Samaritan. Or, if we find ourselves beaten and sharing the victim’s cry, we too must love and forgive. We must, even though our natural instinct jumps in response with our own hate and prejudice. We will only see our country and world begin to heal when we begin to love our neighbors like the good Samaritan and when we love our enemies like the One who forgave, loved, and died for his enemies.

Noli Me Tangere by Fra Angelico

An Easter Message of Love

This message is timely for Easter. Our perfect example of love comes from the One who, for our sake, endured and overcame all hate, ridicule, violence, and ultimately, death on the cross. His own people betrayed him, his trusted disciple denied knowing him, he was spit on, thrashed and beaten, mocked, and sentenced unjustly to the most gruesome of deaths—crucifixion. But even as he was hanging on the cross near death, he prayed for the forgiveness of the very people who put him there. It was because of his words of forgiveness and his bodily sacrifice that we now have hope. And we rejoice in knowing how the story ends. Easter is the story of Christ’s resurrection. Easter is a celebration of Jesus conquering sin and death for us, his enemies. We hated him, but He loved us, forgave us, and died for us, by which His death and resurrection allowed for our redemption. As we celebrate Easter in a world spiraling in hate and sorrow, may we be rooted and grounded in the perfect example of love set before us. If we have learned anything from His example and knowing the patterns of this world, may we love in the time of hate.

Jeanee Shin

Jeanee and her daughter are standing on a beach. They're holding hands and smiling at the camera.