Saturday January 19, 2019
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Juneteenth: A Proclamation From The Executive Of The United States

Another Independence Day

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Deborah Smith and her husband, Kuma, watch festivities at a Juneteenth celebration at Leimert Park in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles, June 19, 2010.
Deborah Smith and her husband, Kuma, watch festivities at a Juneteenth celebration at Leimert Park in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles, June 19, 2010. VOA

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves free.”

That proclamation, June 19, 1865, was the spark for a day that has come to be known in the United States as Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of U.S. slavery.

The proclamation in Texas actually came 2½ years after slavery ended with President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. That document, which made emancipation effective in slaveholding states January 1, 1863, was signed in the middle of the Civil War. But it was not until federal troops arrived thousands of kilometers west in Texas, two months after the official end of the war in 1965, that many Texas slaves were informed that they were free.

The reason for the delay in notification of the slaves is unclear. It could have been slow communications at a time when telephones and email did not exist; it could have been that such a proclamation could not have been enforced until federal troops arrived in Texas after the war.

Life for freed slaves

The proclamation did not immediately make life easy for freed slaves. They had to find their own work for wages and grapple with prejudice that causes racial divides in the United States today. But emancipation was a legal victory that came as welcome news to the 250,000 African-Americans who had been illegally enslaved in Texas for 30 months after the signing of the document that was meant to free them.

Today, Juneteenth supporters are still working for recognition of the holiday, which is celebrated with picnics, parades, prayer and public celebrations of African-American culture.

The holiday was once celebrated mostly in the western United States. Texas-dwellers took the holiday with them as they followed job opportunities west. But the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s brought a new surge in interest in the holiday in the East, and now 45 out of 50 states have designated the mid-June celebration as an official state holiday or day of observance. Texas was the first state to make Juneteenth a state holiday.

Slaves
Slaves, Pixabay

Community celebrations

This Saturday and Sunday, many Juneteenth celebrations are taking place before the official June 19 anniversary of the proclamation. In Salisbury, Maryland, close to the eastern U.S. coast, residents held an outdoor festival featuring dancing and local crafts at a cultural center.

Community organizer Amber Green told a reporter that Juneteenth “is basically Black Independence Day.”

Juneteenth celebrations tend to be generated by the community, highlighting ties among family and friends.

Also read: Islamic State (ISIS) Terrorist Group using Thousands of Women as Sex slaves in Mosul, Iraq

“Today is our festival,” Green said. “We have local artists, local vendors, local music, and we are just bringing the community together through good food, good music and good fun.” (VOA)

Next Story

U.S. Adults Putting on Pounds Instead of Getting Taller

In 2016, about 18 percent of the nation's population was Hispanic, up from about 13 percent in 2000, according to U.S. Census figures.

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Weight, adults
This April 3, 2018 file photo shows a closeup of a beam scale in New York. A government report released Dec. 20, 2018, shows that adult waistlines are expanding. VOA

You don’t need to hang the mistletoe higher, but you might want to skip the holiday cookies.

A report released Thursday shows U.S. adults aren’t getting any taller but they are still getting fatter.

The average U.S. adult is overweight and just a few pounds from obese, thanks to average weight increases in all groups — but particularly whites and Hispanics.

Overall, the average height for men fell very slightly over the past decade. There was no change for women.

One factor may be the shift in the country’s population. There’s a growing number of Mexican-Americans, and that group tends to be a little shorter, said one of the report’s authors, Cynthia Ogden of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Adults
The researchers looked at how many people within each group died as compared to those within the normal weight population with no metabolic risk factors. Pixabay

The findings come from a 2015-16 health survey that measures height and weight. More than 5,000 U.S. adults took part.

CDC records date back to the early 1960s, when the average man was a little over 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighed 166 pounds. Now, men are almost 1 inch taller and more than 30 pounds heavier. But today’s average height of 5 feet, 9 inches is about a tenth of an inch shorter than about a decade ago.

The average woman in the early 1960s was 5 feet, 3 inches and 140 pounds. Now, women are a half-inch taller and about 30 pounds heavier, on average. The average height is about the same as it was a decade earlier: 5 feet, 4 inches.

Other survey findings

* In the last decade, the average weight of men rose about 2 pounds, to 198. For women, it rose 6 pounds, to nearly 171.

exercise, Adults
Being physically active can also help prevent risk factors for stroke, like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure Pixabay

* Men have 40-inch waistlines, on average. Women’s waistlines are a little under 39 inches.

* The average height of black men and white men has been holding about steady, at a little under 5 feet 10.

Also Read: Exposure to Certain Disinfectants Can Cause Obesity in Kids: Research

* Mexican-American and Asian-American men are roughly 3 inches shorter than whites and blacks, on average. There was a similar height gap in women.

In 2016, about 18 percent of the nation’s population was Hispanic, up from about 13 percent in 2000, according to U.S. Census figures. Mexican-Americans account for nearly two-thirds of the Hispanic population.(VOA)