What is Juneteenth?
It was June 19th, 1865 (two years after the Emancipation Proclamation had legally freed slaves on January 1, 1863) that Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of the Civil War and slavery. Slave owners had withheld that information from slaves to be able to get another harvest out of them. Granger’s General Order Number Three left no doubt about the fact:
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 absoluteequality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters andslaves and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes thatbetween employer and hired labor. The Freedmen are advised to remain attheir present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will notbe allowed to collect at military posts; and they will not be supported in idlenesseither there or elsewhere.
Juneteenth is a day of commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, it is often referred to as the Black Independence Day. It is recognized as a state holiday or observance in forty-seven states and the District of Columbia. Although the push to have it named as a Federal holiday has not been successful, the last four U. S. Presidents have made remarks about its observance. Over the course of 155 years, Juneteenth has become a global event.
Observances are usually community events, including parades, cookouts, picnics, festivals, marches, and prayer vigils. Given the current protests concerning the systemic racism that permeates our American culture – with the focus on police brutality and a biased criminal justice system, June 19th or Juneteenth takes on special significance. This day is to recognize African American freedom and achievement and take the time to promote and cultivate our appreciation of the diversity of cultures. In recent years, the celebrations have been global, as the sacrifices to achieve freedom are still ongoing.
The state of Tennessee passed legislation in 2007 (Tenn. Code Ann. §15-2-113 (2007) to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday.
In Multnamah County in Oregon, June 19th is now a paid holiday.
Juneteeth Books in WCPL Collection
Children’s Fiction and Nonfiction
Adult Fiction and Nonfiction
Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
General Gordon Granger: The Savior of Chickamauga and the Man Behind “Juneteenth” by Robert Conner available online as an ebook.
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
“For the odd girls, the nerdy girls, and the murderinos. This one is yours.”
― Simone St. James, The Sun Down Motel
We all know sketchy small-town motels like The Sun Down. It’s not the kind of place you want to be after dark unless you’re a person passing through or a person with a secret, but this is a spot you will enjoy reading about. The Sun Down Motel is a horror/crime novel written from two different perspectives on two different timelines, but the motel is the connective tissue between the two stories and certainly is a character of its own.
Viv Delaney 1982
On her way to New York City, Viv takes the night clerk position at The Sun Down Motel in Fell, NY, but things aren’t quite right. Women in the area are turning up missing and murdered and Viv is hearing and seeing things at the hotel that can’t be real. As Viv delves deep into the mystery of the murdered women in the area, she mysteriously goes missing herself.
Carly Kirk 2017
Carly’s Aunt Viv went missing back in 1982 and it seems to her that no one cared. A true crime aficionado, Carly takes it upon herself to move to Fell, NY and find out what happened to her aunt. When she arrives, strange twists of fate allow her to move into the apartment her aunt had and even pick up the night clerk positon at the place her aunt used to work- The Sun Down Motel. The motel isn’t all it seems though. Was her aunt murdered or was something darker and paranormal at play?
Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
Rice weaves a truly realistic post-apocalyptic tale in Moon of the Crusted Snow. It leaves plenty to the imagination, but I thoroughly enjoyed Rice’s straightforward writing style, use of the Anishinaabe language, and it’s a fairly quick read- which can be a bonus if you’re absorbed in a story. If you don’t enjoy ambiguous books though, this one may not be for you.
A quick summary: A small Anishinaabe community in northern Canada notices their power is out, this is inconvenient, but not unusual. What is unusual is that the power does not come back, and winter is closing in. It’s not just their community- the electricity is gone. There’s no power, no phones, nothing. We follow Evan Whitesky, a young man with a young family to protect. The tribe knows of their old ways, but can they go back to them well enough to survive the winter on the supplies they have? When a mysterious stranger shows up from the south, and bad things begin to happen, can the community stay unified long enough to survive?
The Return by Rachel Harrison
“You can’t erase your past when there are pieces of it scattered inside other people.” Rachel Harrison, The Return
Julie is missing and all her friends believe she’s probably dead. Well, everyone except Elise. Elise just knows Julie is still out there. It turns out that Elise is right. Julie turns up two years after she goes missing from a secluded park. After Julie resurfaces, the friends decide to meet up at a remote inn. Apparently, Julie doesn’t remember anything that happened to her. When Elise is reunited with Julie, she knows something isn’t quite right with her friend. She looks terrible, smells terrible, her skin is dull, she’s emaciated, and seems off. Who- or what- is this new Julie?
This one really had me hooked the entire time. There’s a looming sense of dread that you just can’t shake and you just long to know more. It may walk you in circles a little bit, but it’s worth sticking with and has a great climax. The whole time you’ll be asking “What’s wrong with Julie?” and though you may or may not be surprised, you’ll be thoroughly creeped along the way to discovering the mystery.
I love a good mystery, true crime story, ghost story, or horror novel. All the books in this review reflect that. I thoroughly enjoyed each of these and would recommend them to anyone with tastes similar to my own. My favorite part of the horror genre is constantly wondering what’s going to happen next and the satisfaction of trying to put together what’s going on in a novel. I hope you pick one of these up, you can find them on READS or Audible. I enjoy trying to find the allegory in the creepy and disturbing that you usually find in a good horror story. I enjoy seeing an author hold society up to a carnival fun-house mirror- that’s what horror is to me. But beyond that, I just love a good scary story for the sake of a scary story as well.