A Juneteenth Bibliography

Juneteenth Bibliography

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There aren't many books in print with Juneteenth as the primary subject. Muriel Miller Branch's Juneteenth: Freedom Day (Cobblehill, ISBN 0525652221) for 8 to 12 year old readers was published in April 1998. Valerie Wesley's Freedom's Gifts: A Juneteenth Story (Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0689802692) for the same age range is a fictional account of Juneteenth from the perspective of a young Texas girl explaining the significance of Juneteenth to her New York cousin. Freedom's Gifts received a glowing review in the June 22, 1997 issue of the New York Times Review of Books (NYTimes free registration required.)

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Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Yvonne Buchanan (Lee & Low, 1995, ISBN 1880000180) is another children's book (grades 2 - 4) that's received mixed reviews. The Horn Book says it's a "flat description of a Texas Town's Juneteenth celebration" and that the illustrations are "pallid." Publisher's Weekly called it "[f]estive and full of mirth." The story line is similar to Freedom's Gifts.

There several out-of-print or difficult-to-obtain children's and other books on Juneteenth that may be available at your local library:

Juneteenth by Anna Pearl Barrett, edited by Frances B. Goodman and illustrated by Howard Costner (Larksdale, 1993, ISBN 0898961114)

Juneteenth Celebration Cookbook by Carol Freida (Carol Freida, 1997, ISBN 1890928313)

Let's Pretend: Mae Dee and Her Family Join the Juneteenth Celebration by Ada DeBlanc Simond and Sarochin Shannon (Stevenson Press, 1978, ISBN 0894820273)

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Juneteenth Texas : Essays in African-American Folklore (Publications of the Texas Folklore Society, No. 54), edited by Francis Edward Abernathy, Alan B. Govenar, and Patrick Mullen (University of North Texas Press, 1996, ISBN 1574410180) is a collection of 21 essays with a decidedly south-Texas bent. The Midwest Book Review describes this 364-page, hardcover book as "a fine collection of essays."

Following is the book's table of contents:

Patrick B. Mullen, Alan Govenar
African-American Folklore in Texas and in the Texas Folklore Society
Francis Edward Abernethy
Black Sacred Harp Singing Remembered in East Texas
Donald R. Ross
Henry Truvillion of the Big Thicket: A Song Worth Singing
Jesse Truvillion
Once Upon a Time in Houston's Fourth Ward
James Thomas Jackson
Where the Cedars Grove
Clyde E. Daniels
Mance Lipscomb: Fight, Flight or the Blues
Glen Alyn
More than Just 'Possum'n Taters: Texas-African Foodways in the WPA Slave Narratives
T. Lindsay Baker
Giving Honor to God, the Joy and Salvation in My Life: The Appreciation Service in Song
Jan Rosenberg
From Gumbo to Grammys: The Development of Zydeco Music in Houston
Lorenzo Thomas
From Bebop to Hard Bop and Beyond: The Texas Jazz Connection
Dave Oliphant
African-American Blacksmithing in East Texas
Richard Allen Burns
Musical Traditions of Twentieth Century African-American Cowboys
Alan Govenar
John Biggers - Artist: Traditional Folkways of the Black Community
Alvia J. Wardlaw
The African-American Folktale and J. Mason Brewer
Lorenzo Thomas
Juneteenth: A Red Spot Day on the Texas Calendar
William H. Wiggins, Jr.
Lightnin' Hopkins: Blues Bard of the Third Ward
John Wheat
"Bongo Joe": A Traditional Street Performer
Pat Mullen
West African Fiddles in Deep East Texas
John Minton
"The Yellow Rose of Texas": A Different Cultural View
Trudier Harris
The Texas Trailblazer Project
Patricia Smith Prather
Appendix: The Texas African-American Photography Collection and Archive
Alan Govenar
Appendix: The African-American Museum of Dallas
Alan Govenar
Appendix: Selected Listing of Resources by the editors

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William H. Wiggins, Jr.'s essay is the sole Juneteenth topic in this book, but if you're into the history of blues or zydeco, you'll enjoy the essays on Mance Lipscomb, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Clifton Chenier. Southeast Texas, and particularly Houston, is home to many musicians who migrated west from Louisiana and Mississippi.

Berkeley's Chris Strachwitz (owner of Arhoolie Records, now moved a couple of miles north to El Cerrito) plays a major role in the book. Strachwitz started Arhoolie with the intention of recording Lightnin' Hopkins live "at the beer joints where he worked." Arhoolie's first release (LP #1001), however, turned out to be Mance Lipscomb's first recording; Strachwitz was responsible for Lipscomb's appearance in the 1961 Berkeley Jazz Festival. Arhoolie's current catalog lists five Lightnin' Hopkins CDs and four Mance Lipscomb albums.

Clifton Chenier, a.k.a. "The King of Zydeco," made Houston the zydeco capital of the U.S. I first heard Chenier play in what was left of Houston's "Frenchtown" in the 1960s and later in Richmond. (I have the majority of Arhoolie's early Chenier albums on carefully preserved vinyl.) -- R.J.

Jubilation! African-American Celebrations in the Southeast, edited by Douglas DeNatale (University of South Carolina Press, 1994, ISBN 157003009X), includes a chapter on the history of Juneteenth celebration by William H. Wiggins, Jr. Jubilation! is a 90-page soft-cover catalog of the exhibition mounted by the University of South Carolina's McKissick Museum in September 1993. The exhibition traveled to seven cities from June 5, 1994 (Detroit) through April 28, 1996 (Los Angeles).

Following is the book's table of contents:

Preface and Acknowledgments
Douglas DeNatale
Curator's Statement
Lesley Williams
African American Celebrations: An Historical and Cultural Overview (1865-1969)
William H. Wiggins, Jr.
I've Got Something to Celebrate
Vennie Deas-Moore
"We Put the Big Pot in the Little Pot and Seasoned It with the Legs" Celebrations in African American Family Life
Marilyn M. White
Remembering the Spirit of Celebration in a South Carolina Community
John W. Roberts
"Will the Circle Be Unbroken?: African American Community Celebrations and the Reification of Cultural Structures
Gerald L. Davis
From Galveston to Washington: Charting Juneteenth's Freedom Trail
William H. Wiggins, Jr.
The Exhibition
List of Contributors
Lenders to the Exhibition

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William H. Wiggins, Jr.
Professor of African-
American Studies
and Folklore
Indiana University

Like Juneteenth Texas, the catalog contains only one essay specifically about the Juneteenth Celebration. Prof. Wiggins traces the spread of Juneteenth celebrations throughout the country, with special emphasis on the 1968 "Poor People's March" to Washington, DC, and Rev. Ralph David Abernathy's Juneteenth Mule Train. Prof. Wiggins recounts that Eartha Kitt was just one of the prominent entertainers who marched in the 1968 Juneteenth parade in the nation's capitol. -- R.J.
Oh, Freedom!: Afro-American Emancipation Celebrations, by William H. Wiggins, Jr., is a 200-page illustrated paperback reprint (University of Tennessee Press, 1990, ISBN 0870496654) of a 1987 hardbound edition.

Oh, Freedom! is the the only scholarly treatise available that covers the gamut of African-American freedom celebrations on January 1, February 1, May 8, May 28, June 19, August 8, and September 23-24. The book won the Benjamin A. Botkin Prize for American folklore. (Botkin was the folklore editor of the depression-era Federal Writers Project and the author of Lay My Burden Down, an abridged version of Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves, 1936-1938. Slave Narratives contains first-person responses to two basic questions: "What does it mean to be free? Even more, how does it feel?")

Martha Southgate says in the The New York Times Book Review: "Wiggins has combined painstaking research and detailed interviews with a relaxed, readable writing style to produce a richly textured and fascinating account of a little-known slice of Americana." David S. Azzolina's review in Library Journal states: "Basing his analysis on fieldwork and solid historical research, Wiggins gives a vivid portrayal of a celebration of ethnic price in all its diversity. Though varied over time and space, the celebratory message of freedom from slavery comes through clearly. Activities -- singing, dancing, speechmaking -- are described. Interesting illustrations, posters, programs, buttons, photographs -- support this intimate, carefully produced book." -- R.J.

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Juneteenth: Celebrating Emancipation, edited by Robert D. Selim and Niani Kilkenny (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1985) , also includes a chapter, "Juneteenth: A Freedom Celebration of Southwestern Blacks,"  by William H. Wiggins, Jr. Unfortunately, this book is out of print and doesn't appear in either the Amazon.com or the BarnesAndNoble.com Web site. You might be able to find it at a university or large municipal library. The Smithsonian's Anacostia Museum and Center for African-American Culture sponsored "Juneteenth '91, Freedom Revisited."



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"A Time to Be Remembered: A Juneteenth Story" is a 57-minute VHS videotape, Teacher's Guide, Student's Time Line, and Activity Ideas package produced by Karol Media. The following is from Karol Media's description of the tape:

"Focusing upon events and trends taking place between the repeal of the Missouri Compromise (1854) and the U.S.. Supreme Court Dred Scott Decision (1857), A Juneteenth Story introduces familiar and not so familiar faces in American history. From Henry 'Box' Brown, to Joseph E.. Brown of Georgia, Jefferson Davis, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, and John Brown, students of all ages are introduced to the personalities and motives behind familiar places and dates.

Viewers get a glimpse of the Underground Railroad offering passage to Canada and the North, and see how the concepts of 'abolitionist' and 'secessionist' led to the Civil War, and witness the emergent self-aware African-American population ratified into law by the 13th Amendment of the Constitution in December 6, 1865."

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