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.


   Everyone has a fear of some sort, but not all of us suffer from the type of pathological fear called a “phobia.” Some phobias are well known, such as agoraphobia, which is the fear of being in an open area or in a large crowd, and Thanatophobia, which is the fear of death. (I think we can all relate to the latter.) There are other phobias that are just plain bizarre; for instance, arachibutyrophobia, which is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of one’s mouth. This list, however, is devoted to those phobias that seem inherently unbearable. In other words, fears that fundamentally affect a sufferer’s quality of life to an extreme extent. While perusing the list, let’s keep in mind that there are real people suffering from these phobias; understanding the phobias themselves will allow us to understand (and sympathize with) the tribulations of the sufferers.

10. Ambulophobia
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“The fear of walking or standing.”
   Imagine the implications of such a fear: the mere thought of standing or walking around fills you with utter terror. How in the world do you live a normal life? You certainly can’t travel around in a motorized chair all the time. Unfortunately for ambulophobes, human flying has not yet been achieved, either. It would seem that an individual suffering from this devastating phobia would be forced to confront their fear many, many times, every single day of their life. That doesn’t sound like fun.

9. Decidophobia

“The fear of making decisions.”

   As you can see, some phobias have profound psychological consequences. If someone is deathly afraid of making a decision, then how do they go about life? Do they instruct others to make a decision for them? Isn’t that a decision in itself? Do they simply follow a real life equivalent of stream-of-consciousness, simply “going with the flow”, and not interfering with the normal course of events? But isn’t THAT a decision, too? Decidophobes must be in a constant state of mental flux; as long as they contemplate a decision, they shouldn’t experience fear. It’s the act of actually making the decision that terrifies them. This essentially means that any sort of personal interaction with the world requires a decidophobe to overcome traumatizing fear.

8. Epistemophobia (Gnosiophobia)

“The fear of knowledge.”

   What? The fear of knowledge? Indeed. No school. No education. No introduction to any new facts of any sort. Developing epistemophobia is akin to placing a cognitive cap on your development. You can’t learn anymore, unless you’re willing to withstand unrelenting terror throughout the entire process, which would obviously impair your ability to even comprehend the new material in the first place.

7. Cibophobia

“The fear of food.”

   Let’s perform a quick analysis of this situation: food is required to live. Cibophobes are frightened by food. This means such people have two options: (1) avoid food altogether, thereby killing themselves through malnutrition and dehydration, which is clearly not a viable (or attractive) prospect, or (2) stay alive by eating food and dealing with bone-chilling tremors every time a spoonful of cereal approaches their mouth. Imagine being a cibophobe; maybe you really enjoy macaroni-and-cheese, or bacon-and-cheddar cheeseburgers, or some other delectable dish. Well, now all the enjoyment you get out of those meals is wiped away because you’d be eating them with a touch of pepper, a dash of salt and a dollop of dread.

6. Somniphobia (Hypnophobia)
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“The fear of sleep.”

   Just like the aforementioned phobia, this one involves something that we all need to stay alive: precious shut-eye. But whereas one might be able to go a few days without food, and thereby dampen the effects of cibophobia, it is much harder to remain functional even after a single day of sleepless activity. I can’t even imagine the overall physical and mental fatigue that this phobia causes; if you stay awake, you harm your body physiologically and undermine your brain’s capabilities, but if you try to go to sleep, you’re overwhelmed by fear which may, plausibly, make it impossible to fall asleep, anyway. Certainly a horrible fear for anyone to have to deal with.

5. Acousticophobia

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“The morbid fear of sounds, including your own voice.”

   We are now moving into the territory of even more bizarrely limiting phobias. How does one live a normal life as an acousticophobe? Do you live in a sound-proof room? Do you walk around with ear plugs? Do you convince a doctor to surgically make you deaf? These all sound like rather drastic decisions, and dangerous ones, to boot, but the other alternative is not very promising: go through life and be horrified by any random noise, whether it’s the slight buzzing of a nearby housefly or the distant rumbling of thunder or the roar of a passing vehicle, or even your own voice. And even if you tried to shield yourself from the terror by covering your ears with your hands, that wouldn’t work; you’d still hear the blood rushing through your head. Scary.

4. Chronophobia


“The fear of the passing of time, or more generally of time itself.”

   Stretching this fear to its logical conclusion, one would assume that the fear of time also entails the fear of concepts pertaining to time, such as the past, the present, the future, and words like “later,” “early,” etc. What a horrible existence that would be, eh? Even if chronophobes aren’t afraid of words or ideas pertaining to time, they ARE afraid of time itself and of its passage, and as human beings we are well aware that time is constantly ticking away. Just imagine being a chronophobe, and staring at a watch or one of those old analog clocks with loudly-ticking second hands. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Every passing second reverberates like an earthquake of shock and terror through your soul.

3. Counterphobia
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“The preference by a phobic for fearful situations.”

   Re-read that definition. This is an arcane, mind-bending phobia if there ever was one. So, we have a phobic, and this person actually SEEKS OUT those situations or objects that cause them intense discomfort and fear. This may sound like some sort of strange, twisted masochistic syndrome, but it’s thought that counterphobes engage in these activities in an effort to combat their phobia. I’m sure you’ve heard the old maxim advising you to “face your fears.” Well, for a person suffering from a phobia, that advice is a lot easier said than practiced. So counterphobes try to conquer their intense fears by placing themselves in their peculiarly fearful situations, which evidently does not work, so the counterphobe is in a constant oscillating existence of fight-or-flight. Thus, counterphobia takes the standard mental devastation caused by phobias and, just to make things worse, adds in a whole new level of psychological problems. Yeah, not a very nice phobia at all.

2. Phobophobia

“The morbid fear of developing a phobia.”
   Again, re-read that definition. Phobophobia is the fear of developing a fear. Well, wait a second – it’s already a fear, so in that case, isn’t phobophobia essentially a self-referential disorder? It would seem so. This is such a ridiculously complicated fear that it seems more like a paradox or brain-teaser than a legitimate fear, which is why I really pity any individuals suffering from it. They fear developing a fear, but they’ve already developed a fear, so phobophobia sort of feeds upon itself in an endless cycle, ad infinitum. Truly, truly disheartening.

1. Pantophobia

“The fear of everything.”
   At first, you almost want to laugh at this phobia. “The fear of everything? Really? That’s just absurd.” But then the realization sinks in and you finally understand the gravity of this phobia. Think about it: the fear of EVERYTHING. One source describes this phobia as “a vague and persistent dread of some unknown evil.” So, in a theoretical sense, a pantophobe can go through life in a completely normal way, enjoying themselves, except for the fact that they are haunted by an incessant, unwavering, relentless fear that some universal, esoteric sinister force is out there somewhere. Whereas all the other phobias in this list refer specifically to some cause, this one has been placed in the number one position because it entails a ubiquitous dread: no matter where a pantophobe goes, no matter what he does, every aspect of his life, every thought, every object, every relationship, interaction, environment, and moment is plagued by a nagging thought that an evil force is hovering above his head, following him from behind, closing in on all sides. All the time. Until the day he dies.