Thursday, June 18, 2020

Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison - BOOK BEGINNING

It's time for Book Beginnings on Fridays! Time to share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are featuring this week.

Post a link to your post below. Or put your book beginning in a comment. You can also participate on social media -- just leave a comment to tell us where to find you.

If you post or crosspost on social media, please use the #bookbeginnings hashtag so we can find each other.


Two days before the shooting a chartered planeload of Southern Negroes swooped down upon the District of Columbia and attempted to see the Senator.

-- Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison.


Juneteenth is set in 1950s and is the story Adam Sunraider, a race-baiting senator from a New England state. When he is wounded in an assassination attempt, he shocks all who know him by asking for Hickman, an elderly black minister. The story unfolds that Sunraider, known as a child by the name Bliss, was raised by Reverend Hickman in a joyful black Baptist community steeped in religion an music, a community much like the one Ellison grew up in himself.

Ralph Ellison is best known for his novel Invisible Man, which won the National Book Award in 1952. He started writing Juneteenth in 1954, bit it was still incomplete at his death in 1994 and was published posthumously in 1999. His wife Fanny worked with his literary executor John Callahan to edit the book in preparation for its publication. Callahan was a friend of Ellison's, a leading scholar of his work, and my favorite college professor in my undergraduate days.


Juneteenth, the holiday, is getting a lot of attention this year. So I thought Ralph Ellison's book of the same name would be a good choice to highlight on June 19, the date Juneteenth is celebrated.

Juneteenth is an unofficial national holiday and an official state holiday in Texas. It marks the date in 1865 that that the Union Army arrived in Galveston, Texas to read the official order proclaiming that slaves in Texas had been freed. President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation almost two and a half years earlier, and the American Civil War had ended in April of 1865, but it took a long time for the news to get to Texas.


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Freda at Freda's Voice hosts The Friday 56 where participants share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of their current book. Please visit her blog to link your post and find other participants.

They relaxed in their chairs, the whiskey between them. Only the air-conditioning unit hummed below their voices. 
Happy Father's Day to all of you celebrating with your dads this weekend!


  1. This sounds like a powerful book. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Super timely read. I didn't realize that Ellison didn't publish it himself. I've never read Invisible Man and should probably start there. My Friday quotes

  3. This looks like a timely read. Enjoy your current read.

  4. Hi Gilion,

    This looks like a very timely chosen book to feature and written by a very powerful author I think.

    I see that Ellison also wrote a book of essays and short stories, which is perhaps where I would begin my journey to discover his writing.

    I also see there is a move afoot to get 'Juneteenth Day' turned into a Federal Holiday!

    Thanks for sharing and have a good weekend :)


  5. Hi there Gilion! Hope you are well? I haven't been on the blogosphere for quite some time. I'm back, but not blogging under Mareli Thalk Ink anymore, you can now find me at Elza Reads.

    Your book seems quite serious, but worth the read.

    You are welcome to visit us at WeekendBookFriends

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  6. A very timely read and it sounds fascinating. Hope you have a great weekend!

  7. Thanks for sharing this book. I'm new to Texas this year, so I'm getting a lot more information about this.

  8. Oh wow, I had no idea there was a book titled this! I guess it shouldn't surprise me, but I'm ashamed to say I had never heard of Juneteenth until ... well, like, a week ago. Sounds like this would be a really interesting read, and it's definitely perfect timing.

  9. What a powerful choice! Gripping from the very first line :)

  10. I've heard of this one but never read it. Happy weekend!


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