Thursday, June 30, 2011


   Today's popular thinking classes the witch as a figure of diverse fantasy. In the main, a witch is considered to be female with images ranging from the scary Wicked Witch of The West in comic books, to the cute teenager who casts spells from her bedroom; and from the black leather clad sexy witch to the evil old hag who creates misery. Of course, none of these concepts reflect today's customs and traditions of the Craft and hardly ever do they reflect its female practitioners or indeed, allow for the male witch. It is, then, quite surprising to learn that witches belong to one of the World's fastest growing religions and that the religion has a healthy mix of female and male members.
   Modern witchcraft is often referred to as Wicca or The Craft and participants as Wiccans or witches. Wicca, a pagan religion, generally worships a Goddess and a God and respects the polarity between the feminine and the masculine. According to this religion, deity is immanent within nature and therefore, Wiccans celebrate seasons and cross quarter days, when they honour the planet and its forces, working with spiritual energies in harmony with nature. Some witches practice in groups, known as covens and others who work alone, are known as solitary witches. All believe in the power of the Moon, the coven based attending a monthly gathering when the Moon is full, whilst solitaries carry out certain practices alone. All witches actively take part in the rites and rituals and continue to develop their spirituality. Often, on completing their basic training, witches choose to specialise in a 'magickal discipline' such as divination, herbalism, astrology, reiki, talismanic magick or crystal healing. These skills are then passed on to fellow witches for their betterment, as there is a strong ethos of love towards one's fellow witches, within the Craft.

   There are no absolute hard and fast rules in Wicca, except perhaps for the Wiccan Rede, which is its central principle, stating amongst other things, "An' it harm none, do what thou wilt." This does not mean that Wiccan's do not have similar beliefs, as between 1973 and 1974, in America, an attempt was made to define this common ground. A 'Council of American Witches' was formed and Carl Llewelyn Weschcke, after the Council's much debate and searching for agreement, came up with a thirteen-point definition of Wiccans. This, a broad belief system which most Wiccans could subscribe to, sprung a number of traditions, of which many were coven based but could be easily adapted for solitary use. Mentioning some of the better-know traditions, would include Gardnerians, Alexandrians, Saex-Wiccans, Cochranians and Faery Wiccans. The Solitary, non tradition-based ones, included Hedge and Cyber Witches. Most traditions' practices are quite fluid, allowing for freedom of expression, creativity and invention, there being few hard and fast rules and very little dogma.

Some Wiccan Traditions and their Founders

   Gardnerian Witchcraft, founded by Gerald Brousseau Gardner. Gardner is considered by many to have been the Founding Father of Wicca. Generally a coven tradition but adapted also by some solitaries.
   Alexandrian Wicca, founded by Alex and Maxine Sanders and established in the 1960s, is a coven based tradition.
   Saex-Wicca, founded by Raymond and Rosemary Buckland, who went to the U.S.A. from England, in 1962. This tradition has no oath of secrecy and no degree structure as do the others. This tradition concentrates on Saxon deities, where the God rules the Winter and the Goddess, the Summer.

   Faery Wicca, also referred to as the Fae, Fey, Feri, Faerie, Fairy and Fairie witchcraft, was founded by Victor and Cora Anderson in the 1950s. Victor was mainly responsible for writing the rituals for this tradition, which he initially based on fairy folklore and beliefs. Initially small and secretive, many of Faery Wicca's basics have reached a wide audience, mainly through the writings of Starhawk, its most famous initiate.
   Cochranian Witchcraft, was founded by Robert Cochrane, a poet who was initiated into a hereditary coven at the age of five. This is a coven based tradition.
   Dianic Wicca, founded in the 1960s by Zsuzsanna Budapest, is a feminist religion and for women only. They honour the deities in their feminine aspect, and never honour the God in their rituals.
   Hedge or Kitchen Witches are solitary practitioners, and best described as persons who practice from home. These witches do not attend coven meetings and in general commonly work with a familiar spirit and incorporate the use of herbs, trance and shamanic techniques such as drumming. The Hedge Witch often works for the benefit of the planet, similar to an eco-warrior, and uses natural objects only, for ritual and magic work.

   Celtic Witches... this is an earth-based tradition, practiced by covens and solitaries alike and was formed from a diverse blend of beliefs and practices from pre-Christian, Celtic and Gaulish people of Northern Europe.  This tradition links closely with the Druids, the 'Wise Men' and 'Priests' of these ancient pagans.

   Hereditary Wicca, is not a tradition so much as a reflective term for the fact that their practice is based on a direct familial lineage, either alone or within a coven. Some Hereditary Witches claim completely independent lineage from modern Wicca. The tradition, according to some, is either based on familial fortune telling, the practice of cunning, folk magick or forms of shamanism, and not Wicca.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


   The Paris Air Show (Salon International de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace, Paris-Le Bourget) is an international trade fair for the aerospace business. It is held at Le Bourget Airport,  North Paris, France every odd year, alternating both with the Farnborough International Exhibition and Flying Display and the Internationale Luft- und Raumfahrtausstellung Berlin.
   The Paris Air Show is a commercial air show, organised by the French aerospace industry's body the Groupement des Industries Françaises Aéronautiques et Spatiales (GIFAS) whose main purpose is to demonstrate military and civilian aircraft to potential customers. It is one of the most prestigious in the world; traditionally, some major sales contracts are announced during the show as part of the corporate communication of the manufacturers. All major international manufacturers, as well as the military forces of several countries, attend the Paris Air Show.

One of the early exhibits

   In addition to industrial visitors, during the closing days of the salon, the show welcomes a large number of public visitors from France and many other European countries, when admission is not limited to visitors with industry affiliations.


   The Paris Air Show traces its history back to the first decade of the 20th century. In 1908 there was a section of the Paris Automobile Show dedicated to aircraft. The following year, an air show was held at the Grand Palais from September 25th to  October 17th, during which 100,000 visitors turned out to see products and innovations from 380 exhibitors.  There were four further shows before the First World War.  The show re-started in 1919, and from 1924 it was held every two years before being interrupted again by the Second World War. It re-started again in 1946 and since 1949, has been held in every odd year.

   The air show continued to be held at the Grand Palais, and from 1949 flying demonstrations were staged at Orly Airport. In 1953, the show was relocated from the Grand Palais to Le Bourget. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the show emerged as a powerful international rival to the Farnborough Air Show. The 1971 show featured a full scale mock-up of an Airbus A300 while the new DC-10 and Lockheed Tristar were present at the 1973 edition. Among major accidents, there were two crashes of Convair B-58 Hustler bombers, in 1961 (during aerobatics) and 1965 (during landing). The show suffered its worst accident in 1973 when a Tupolev Tu-144 crashed killing the six crew and eight people on the ground.


   At the Paris Air Show on June 3, 1973, the first Tupolev Tu-144 production aircraft (registration 77102) crashed. While in the air, it undertook a violent downward manoeuvre. Trying to pull out of the subsequent dive, the plane disintegrated and crashed, destroying 15 houses and killing all six on board and eight on the ground.
   The causes of this incident remain controversial. Theories included: The Tu-144 was forced to avoid a French Mirage chase plane which was attempting to photograph its canards, which were very advanced for the time, and that the French and Soviet governments colluded with each other to cover up such details; that the cause of this accident was due to changes made by the ground engineering team to the auto-stabilisation input controls prior to the second day of display flights. These changes were intended to allow the Tu-144 to outperform Concorde in the display circuit; the deliberate misinformation on the part of the Anglo-French team. The main thrust of this theory was that the Anglo-French team knew that the Soviet team were planning to steal the design plans of Concorde, and the Soviets were allegedly passed false blueprints with a flawed design.

   An-225 with Buran at Le Bourget Airfield, 1989 The "38th Paris International Air and Space Show" or "1989 Paris Air Show", featured a variety of aerospace technology from NATO and Warsaw pact nations.  A MiG 29 crashed during a demonstration flight with no loss of life. The then Soviet space shuttle Buran and its carrier Antonov An-225 was displayed outside of Russia at this show.

   An AH-64 Apache at the 2005 Paris Air showThe 2005 show, held June 13th-19th, witnessed the return of American companies in large numbers following the downscaling of their presence in 2003 in relation to the Iraq War. Another strain in relations in 2005 was the recently launched World Trade Organisation litigation, which involved action filed by the United States against the EU member States alleging WTO-inconsistent subsidies to Airbus.
   The Airbus A380 opened the show with a flying display

   The 2007 Paris Air showThe Airbus A330 MRTT tanker/transport, Antonov An-148 regional jet, Bell/Agusta BA609 tilt-trotor, Socata TBM 850 and the S4 Ehécatl unmanned aircraft were presented for the first time.

   In 2009, the Show marked a hundred years of technological innovation in aeronautics and space conquest. The event was held from 15 to 21 June, at Le Bourget.

   A memorial service was held at the air show for the victims of Air France Flight 447.

    The airshow takes place this year from Monday 20 june to Sunday 26 June 2011 and from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Elfego Baca

   The Elfego Baca Shoot is a one-hole golf tournament on what is probably the longest single hole around — almost three miles down the mountain, a drop of 2,550 feet in elevation. It's also probably the most challenging hole in golf, even though the "hole" is 50 feet in diameter.
   What is now a traditional part of the Socorro Springs Open, the Shoot started as a novelty event to generate interest in the community nearly 50 years ago. Nearly every year, the Elfego Baca Shoot gets national attention. Last year, sportswriter Rick Riley participated in the event with the intent of using it as part of a book he's writing on golf.
   he Elfego Baca Shoot was the idea of Holm Bursum Jr., president of First State Bank and founder of the Conrad Hilton Open. The Elfego Baca Shoot was begun as a special attraction along with the then Conrad Hilton Open in 1960 by First State Bank and the Socorro County Chamber of Commerce. This novelty tournament was begun to

generate more interest in the Socorro Community.   Socorro Springs Restaurant and Brewery has since replaced the Hilton as the title sponsor, but the Shoot is still around.
   The event begins at the top of 7,243-foot "M" Mountain and ends at a 50-foot target on the grounds of the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center. Golfers will be transported from the Tech Golf Course to the peak in 4-wheel-drive vehicles. The group leaves early Saturday morning after being cautioned about snakes and steep slopes and the other hazards they may encounter along the way.
   The golfers tee off at the top, and then chase their shots down the mountain to the target. They are each given 10 balls to use, and every time they lose a ball, it is a one-stroke penalty. If they lose all 10, they're out.
   Each golfer can have up to three spotters who track the flight of the ball and help find it after each shot.

   The golfer with the lowest score — shots plus lost balls — wins the event.
   Since the terrain of the "M" mountain is so rocky, golfers are allowed to tee the ball for every shot. It is recommended that a particpant bring a piece of rug or a broom with a short handle in which he can mount his tee. Also, because of the landscape, the ball can be moved laterally from its position or away from a hole to produce a better shot. This comes in handy for those unlucky golfers whose ball falls into an old mine shaft or a cactus bush. This unique set of rules can only be found at the Elfego Baca Shootout.
    It takes about four hours for the golfers to play the hole. The Shoot is limited to 10 players to protect the mountain's ecology.
   Dennis Walsh, representing the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, won last year's Shoot with a score of 16. He unseated Socorro's Caleb Gonzales as champion.

Some of the terrain when you need to find your ball

   Entry Fee for the Elfego Shootout is $100.00.


1st: $750

2nd: $500

3rd: $400

4th: $300

5th: $200

6th: $100

   The Shoot was named after the famous Elfego Baca of the 1880s. Baca is known for a standoff in Catron County that he endured against several banditos who had him pinned down in an adobe hut.
   According to legend, Baca survived an entire day's worth of gunfire, then walked out of the hut and arrested the banditos after they ran out of ammunition.
   The name was chosen because the Shoot, like the legend of Elfego Baca, is the epitome of the adventurous spirit that is the Southwest.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


   Castles have been a part of horror since for centuries. As a writer who specializes on horror history and symbolism, I often notice that people automatically have a tingle go up their spine when they see a castle in a horror movie, or read about one in a horror literature. Take a moment with me to explore the symbolism behind castles in horror movies and horror literature.

Forgotten Knowledge
   If we were to take a page out of the book that rattled around in the mind of H.P. Lovecraft we would find that castles in horror movies and horror literature symbolize forgotten knowledge that humanity was either never meant to know, or meant to forget.
   Notice that almost every Gothic castle has a library of dusty old books. In many cases, cursed works such as the, "Necronomicon," "The Book of Eibon," or "Cultes des Goules," might be hidden inside. The castle is there to separate us from what we really do not want to learn.

Forgotten Evils
   Many horror movies and stories of horror literature tell of hidden creatures or forgotten and mutated humans that live deep within a castle. The castle is there as the sanctuary for that creature, or as a prison. Outsiders should know well enough to leave castles alone.

Lack of Safety
Sometimes castles are meant to symbolize places in the world that we cannot truly be safe. Mind that castles were originally created as places of safety. Instead, in horror movies and in horror literature, castles are places where people go to die.
   Consider the story of, "The Keep," by F. Paul Wilson. Nazi military personnel head to an abandoned castle to hold out, and regroup. Instead, they are killed off one by one by something. In this instance, as many others, the castle gives a false sense of security. "Masque of the Red Death," by Poe could also be inserted here as a great example.

The Crypt
   One other staple of Gothic castles would be the crypt that one would find outside of the castle, or in the depths beneath the castle. Again, this is a hidden evil, and somewhere that we should not tread. Instead of just being a place to bury the dead, a crypt in a castle in a horror movie or in horror literature is a place to bury the insolent people that have passed through the castle in the past.

The Secret Passageways
   Secret passages in castles in horror movies and horror literature symbolize secrets that are hidden right in front of the characters, the viewers, and the readers. Once we realize that these secrets have been right in front of us the entire time, we almost feel as stupid as the characters that we are following.

The Devil
   Some castles are meant to symbolize the safe haven of the Devil. A separate Hell on Earth as it will. No matter how foreboding the castle might be with the lightning, the fact that villagers believe that it is cursed, and the odd lights, we are still drawn to the castle in horror movies and horror literature. Just like temptation of the flesh, we are drawn into the temptation of the castle.

The Towers
   The towers that surround castles in horror movies and in horror literature are one of the most blatant symbols in the reach of horror symbolism. Mind that many castle builders had to build the straightest, and tallest towers around. While it was stated that these towers were meant for lookouts, they were, and continue to be, phallic symbols.
   The next time that you seen castles in a horror movie, or read about one in horror literature, think about the points of symbolism that you read about here. Impress your friends with the depth of your understanding of horror symbolism as it deals with castles.


  Common Riding is an annual event celebrated in Scottish Border towns and in some other places, to commemorate the times of the past when local men risked their lives in order to protect their town and people.


   The Hawick Common-Riding is the first of the Border festivals and celebrates the ancient custom of riding the boundaries of the parish/marches and the capture of an English Flag in 1514. The Common-Riding proper takes place in June on a Friday and Saturday.
   TheCornet for the year is elected by the Provost's Council in May. From then until the festival is over the Cornet is an honoured figure in Hawick. The first recorded Cornet was in 1703 and other than the World Wars there has been an unbroken line to the present day.

   In the weeks preceding the actual Common-Riding, on each Saturday and Tuesday, the Cornet and his supporters are out on their ride-outs in the course of which they visit surrounding villages and farms. The first of the Cornet's Chases takes place up a hill called the "Knipknowes" where a local caterer is asked to prepare the customary dish of “curds and cream” for refreshment during the actual riding of the marches. This marks the end of the preliminary procedure.
   On the Sunday before the Common-Riding the Council attends the Kirkin' o' the Cornet, a church service. In the afternoon the Cornet's Lass with the Lasses of the two previous Cornets travel to the Hornshole Memorial and lay a wreath.

   Following Chases on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings the second major Chase takes place on the Thursday morning when the Cornet carries the Flag for the first time. The Principals visit the local schools where the Cornet asks that the children are given a holiday for the rest of the week. This is of granted and the children and parents join in singing festival songs.
   The Colour Bussing, takes place on the Thursday evening in the Town Hall. The Provost and Magistrates are played into a packed Hall by the Drum and Fife Band. Then come the Lasses with the Maids of Honour. The Cornet's Lass carries the Flag to the front of the Hall with her attendants and “busses” the Flag by tying ribbons to the head of the staff. The Flag is given to the Cornet where he is reminding him that it is “the embodiment of all the traditions that are our glorious heritage”. The Cornet is charged to ride the marches of the commonty of Hawick and return the Flag “unsullied and unstained”. The Halberdier then calls on the burgesses to “ride the meiths and marches of the commonty”. Then begins the Cornet's Walk round the town with his supporters.

   Early the following morning the Drum and Fife Band set off to rouse the town. At Towerdykeside a ceremony called the Snuffin' is performed, when snuff is dispensed from an old horned mull. Soon the crowd soon disperses to the surrounding pubs for the traditional rum and milk before breakfast, followed by the singing of the “Old Song” at the door of the Tower Hotel, each of the Principals taking it in turn to sing verses.
   Following this the Principals, along with upward of 300 followers, mount their horses and process round the town and onto the Nipknowes where the main festival chase takes place concluding in song, toasts and the curds and cream. The riders then set off via Williestruther Loch and Acreknowe Reservoir to ride the marches where the Cornet ceremoniously “Cuts the Sod”. They then make their way to the race-course where, after a programme of horse-racing, the company remounts and proceeds to Millpath where a proclamation is made that the marches have been duly ridden, without

interruption or molestation of any kind. This is then followed by more singing and playing of Drums and Fifes and the Flag is returned temporarily to the Council Chambers, where it is displayed. The assembled gathering then eat, sing and dance into the night before seeing in the dawn from the summit of Moat Hill.
   On Saturday the town is again roused by the Drum and Fife Band and by 9.30 a.m. they ride to Wilton Lodge Park where the principals lay wreaths of remembrance on the town's War Memorial. The procession then heads for the Moor where horse races are again held.

   On the Cornet's return, his official duties end when he ceremoniously returns the Flag to the Provost in the Council Chambers. In the evening there is the Greeting' Dinner - an informal occasion when the company bid farewell to the Left-Hand Man, who as Cornet of two years ago, is wearing his uniform for the last time. Afterwards the guests and principals make their customary tour of the fairground in the Haugh.
   Teribus is traditionally sung at many occasions during the festivities.

   In March 2007 The Rough Guide tourism book wrote that Hawick Common Riding was one of the best parties in the world. It praises the event, which "combines the thrills of Pamplona's Fiesta de San Fermin with the concentrated drinking of Munich's Oktoberfest". Guide book praises common riding


   The Selkirk Common Riding is a celebration of the history and traditions of the Royal and Ancient Burgh. It originated in the need to guard the boundaries of the land held in common by the town. The annual Riding of the Marches has continued to this day and continues the tradition of those who rode around their town’s boundaries throughout the centuries checking for encroachments by neighbouring landowners. The job was one sometimes brimming with danger, with risk of murder or kidnapping perhaps not too distant at times from the minds of those who rode out. Selkirk Common Riding also remembers how after the disastrous Battle of Flodden Field tradition, perhaps a little shaky, has it that only one man from the town (the Town Clerk, Fletcher) returned,

bearing a captured flag. Legend has it that he cast the flag about his head to indicate that all the other men of Selkirk had been cut down and then promptly died. At the end of the Selkirk Common Riding when everyone, riders and folk on foot, have returned to the Market Square the Royal Burgh Standard and the flags of the various participating trades and other organizations are ceremonially cast, the last being for those who fell in war. There follows a minute's silence and the playing of the Liltin (a version of the Flo'ers o' the Forest).


   Langholm's Common Riding ("Langholm's Great Day") attracts a large number of Langholmite exiles and also tourists from all over the world. The Public election for Cornet takes place in May. It comes from the settlement of a legal dispute in the 19th century, which ensured Langholm people certain common rights (e.g. the digging of peat) within set boundaries. Every year, those boundaries must be re-marked to maintain the rights. Over the years, this has become a celebration of the town and its people.
   Although not originally ridden to check the boundaries, horses are an extremely important part of the Common Riding and the traditions that have built up around it over the years. Common Riding Day is preceded by 'ride-outs' of horses on the hills around the town, and on the day itself the Cornet and his followers have to be able to ride - and ride well - to gallop up the Kirk Wynd, and get to the Monument* as part of checking the ancient boundaries.

   On Common Riding Day, the last Friday in July, after the Cornet receives the flag, there are three Cryings of the Fair: two outside the Town Hall and one on Whita Hill. The Fair Cryer stands on the back of a horse.
   The emblems - Thistle, Spade, Crown and Barley Banna' - are also important. The barley banna is barley bread nailed to a wooden platter, along with a salted herring, with a large (twai-penny) nail.

   Common Riding Day is concluded by returning from the Castleholm to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne", dancing polkas on the A7 trunk road, handing back the flag and finally singing of "God Save The Queen."

 Lauder Common Riding

   The origins of Lauder Common Riding are lost in the mist of time, but it cannot be denied that its pedigree is quite lengthy.
   At one time it was a necessary duty to ensure that adjoining landowners had not stolen or encroached upon the Common Lands of the Burgh. This land was not

enclosed, the boundary being marked by a number of Cairns. The burgesses rode from cairn to cairn and it fell upon newer or younger men to fill their pockets with stones to place upon each cairn in turn, This practice was abandoned when it was found that the pockets contained not stones but bottles of refreshment to be consumed at each cairn! The Riding of the Marches was nevertheless serious business, the date and time being intimated by Tuck of Drum by the Town Drummer. Failure to attend to the duties could result in a fine, in the early 19th Century this was 5/- for a Burgess.

   The Ceremony originally was held on Ascension Day when the lands, crops and affairs of the Burgh were blessed. The Health of the Monarch was Toasted and later the date became the King’s Birthday. In this respect it is Recorded in the Minutes of the Town Council in early 19th century that the expense of celebrating the King’s Birthday should not exceed £2.10/-.
   The riders used to race from the Stirk Hill to the Town Hall but this proved dangerous to rider and bystander alike and was discontinued after many protest. The day closed with a Dinner in the Town Hall. The practice was discontinued for about 70 years but was resuscitated in 1911 to celebrate the Coronation of King George V and has continued ever since with the exception of the two Wars. The revived Common Riding, which we have today differs very little from the original.

   It is not held to commemorate a victory over the English in Battle like other Towns or as a Gala Day. The religious aspect is still observed with the Kirkin’ of the Cornet, at which the Lords Blessing is sought for the weeks events. With a few alterations where land was sold, the Cornet leads his followers round the Marches of the Royal Burgh of Lauder with a halt for refreshments at the Waterin Stane and a Toast to Her Majesty. On leaving the Waterin’ Stane the cavalcade makes for the Burgess Cairn, the only surviving cairn, and places a stone upon it and on return reports no encroachment on Burgh Land.
   In recent times “Tom Waldies bridge”, the Waterin’ Stane and the Burgess Cairn have been repaired and improved to ensure the smooth running of the common riding. The Millennium Cairn, at the top of the Whiteknowe End, was erected to commemorate regaining the Burgh Charter of 1502.

Common Ridings Today

   Today Common Ridings attract large numbers of crowds gathering from all around the world, as Borderers pay respects to those who risked their lives protecting the townspeople. The mounted procession around the towns' lands is usually led by a Standard Bearer or Callants, who is picked from the towns' young men.
   The oldest Common Ridings are held at Hawick, Selkirk, Langholm and Lauder, with histories tracing back over hundreds of years, though most border towns hold some type of similar event each year

Monday, June 27, 2011


   The understanding and excitement of Juneteenth is growing at a phenomenal rate. Cities and States all across the U.S. and beyond are realizing the wonderful opportunity we have to come together in appreciation, reconciliation and commemoration. During Juneteenth we acknowledge the African American spirit and pay tribute to the roles and contributions which have enriched our society. The JUNETEENTH.com website provides a channel in which to connect and unite all whom share the vision of this celebration.
  Through the efforts of those at the grassroots level, to those on the state and national levels, Juneteenth celebrations are now held in most, if not all, 50 states. Over half have passed some form of legislation establishing Juneteenth as a Special Day of Recognition. Several other states have similar legislation pending. The recognition and honor of Juneteenth extends even beyond our borders. Expatriates, teachers, servicemen and others have continued their celebrations internationally.

   Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

Juneteenth Flag

   Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another, is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another, is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or neither of these version could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln's authority over the rebellious states was in question For whatever the reasons, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory

General Order Number 3

  One of General Granger’s first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3 which began most significantly with:

"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer."

   The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation. While many lingered to learn of this new employer to employee relationship, many left before these offers were completely off the lips of their former 'masters' - attesting to the varying conditions on the plantations and the realization of freedom. Even with nowhere to go, many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom. North was a logical destination and for many it represented true freedom, while the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove the some into Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Settling into these new areas as free men and

women brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore non-existent status for black people in America. Recounting the memories of that great day in June of 1865 and its festivities would serve as motivation as well as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territory. The celebration of June 19th was coined "Juneteenth" and grew with more participation from descendants. The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date.

Juneteenth Festivities and Food

   A range of activities were provided to entertain the masses, many of which continue in tradition today. Rodeos, fishing, barbecuing and baseball are just a few of the typical Juneteenth activities you may witness today. Juneteenth almost always focused on education and self improvement. Thus, often guest speakers are brought in and the elders are called upon to recount the events of the past. Prayer services were also a major part of these celebrations.
   Certain foods became popular and subsequently synonymous with Juneteenth celebrations such as strawberry soda-pop. More traditional and just as popular was the barbecuing, through which Juneteenth participants could share in the spirit and aromas that their ancestors - the newly emancipated African Americans, would have experienced during their ceremonies. Hence, the barbecue pit is often established as the center of attention at Juneteenth celebrations.

   Food was abundant because everyone prepared a special dish. Meats such as lamb, pork and beef which not available everyday were brought on this special occasion. A true Juneteenth celebrations left visitors well satisfied and with enough conversation to last until the next
   Dress was also an important element in early Juneteenth customs and is often still taken seriously, particularly by the direct descendants who can make the connection to this tradition's roots. During slavery there were laws on the books in many areas that prohibited or limited the dressing of the enslaved. During the initial days of the emancipation celebrations, there are accounts of former slaves tossing their ragged garments into the creeks and rivers to adorn clothing taken from the plantations belonging to their former 'masters'.

Juneteenth and Society

   In the early years, little interest existed outside the African American community in participation in the celebrations. In some cases, there was outwardly exhibited resistance by barring the use of public property for the festivities. Most of the festivities found themselves out in rural areas around rivers and creeks that could provide for additional activities such as fishing, horseback riding and barbecues. Often the church grounds was the site for such activities. Eventually, as African Americans became land owners, land was donated and dedicated for these festivities. One of the earliest documented land purchases in the name of Juneteenth was organized by Rev. Jack Yates. This fund-raising effort yielded $1000 and the purchase of Emancipation Park in Houston, Texas. In Mexia, the local Juneteenth organization purchased Booker T. Washington Park, which had become the Juneteenth celebration site in 1898. There are accounts of Juneteenth activities being interrupted and halted by white landowners demanding that their laborers return to work. However, it seems most allowed their workers the day off and some even made donations of food and money. For decades these annual celebrations flourished, growing continuously with each passing year. In Booker T. Washington Park, as many as 20,000 African Americans once flowed through during the course of a week, making the celebration one of the state’s largest.

Juneteenth Celebrations Decline

   Economic and cultural forces provided for a decline in Juneteenth activities and participants beginning in the early 1900’s. Classroom and textbook education in lieu of traditional home and family-taught practices stifled the interest of the youth due to less emphasis and detail on the activities of former slaves. Classroom text books proclaimed Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863 as the date signaling the ending of slavery - and little or nothing on the impact of General Granger’s arrival on June 19th.
   The Depression forced many people off the farms and into the cities to find work. In these urban environments, employers were less eager to grant leaves to celebrate this date. Thus, unless June 19th fell on a weekend or holiday, there were very few participants available. July 4th was the already established Independence holiday and a rise in patriotism steered more toward this celebration.


   The Civil Rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s yielded both positive and negative results for the Juneteenth celebrations. While it pulled many of the African American youth away and into the struggle for racial equality, many linked these struggles to the historical struggles of their ancestors. This was evidenced by student demonstrators involved in the Atlanta civil rights campaign in the early 1960’s, whom wore Juneteenth freedom buttons. Again in 1968, Juneteenth received another strong resurgence through Poor Peoples March to Washington D.C.. Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s call for people of all races, creeds, economic levels and professions to come to Washington to show support for the poor. Many of these attendees returned home and initiated Juneteenth celebrations in areas previously absent of such activity. In fact, two of the largest Juneteenth celebrations founded after this March are now held in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

Texas Blazes the Trail

   On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official state holiday through the efforts of Al Edwards, an African American state legislator. The successful passage of this bill marked Juneteenth as the first emancipation celebration granted official state recognition. Edwards has since actively sought to spread the observance of Juneteenth all across America.

Juneteenth In Modern Times

   Today, Juneteenth is enjoying a phenomenal growth rate within communities and organizations throughout the country. Institutions such as the Smithsonian, the Henry Ford Museum and others have begun sponsoring Juneteenth-centered activities. In recent years, a number of local and national Juneteenth organizations have arisen to take their place along side older organizations - all with the mission to promote and cultivate knowledge and appreciation of African American history and culture.
   Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. As it takes on a more national, symbolic and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all of the roots tie back to this fertile soil from which a national day of pride is growing.

   The future of Juneteenth looks bright as the number of cities and states creating Juneteenth committees continues to increase. Respect and appreciation for all of our differences grow out of exposure and working together. Getting involved and supporting Juneteenth celebrations creates new bonds of friendship and understanding among us. This indeed, brightens our future - and that is the Spirit of Juneteenth.