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The Hike to Juneteenth

The view from Mt. McNish in Antigua


My mission began at 5:30 AM on June 16. I went around the house and made sure everyone was up and getting ready. Before humidity filled our pores and drained our energy stores, we needed to arrive at Mt. McNish.

Reaching the summit with three children would not be easy. Estimates range from one hour and twenty minutes to two hours to cover 4.29 miles and climb 1,033 feet. An early start was critical to finishing before the sun burned our path and skin.

At 6:15 AM, we parked among a herd of cows at the base. Once out of the car and away from the herd, two of the three children started slowly while the youngest raced ahead. In the first mile of the hike, we traversed lemongrass-scented and mud-stained trails.

Midway to the top, we paused.

"This is my favorite part of the hike,” I said as I relished the serenity of bamboo trees and birds chirping in the distance. No one wanted to wait.

The children resumed without me, and my wife tsked her teeth. She was not feeling it.

A woman looking angry on a hike

Every year on Father’s Day, I aim to enjoy an uninterrupted day with my family. In Chicago, it was time at home. We went to a water park or the beach when we lived in Mexico.

Three days before Juneteenth this year, I asked the family for the gift of hiking together. They wrapped their smiles in frowns and begrudgingly complied.

Two days after the hike,  I went on a long run.

One day before Juneteenth, after a day in the office, I played Capoeira near the waters that once transported enslaved Africans to the Caribbean to work on sugar cane plantations.

Two men playing capoeira on the beach in Antigua and Barbuda.

On June 19, 1865, enslaved Africans in Galveston, Texas, received word of the executive decree declaring them free. This message came before online communications, so the 1863 Order of Emancipation took longer than seconds to reach the Confederate States. It wasn’t until the ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 6, 1865, that slavery became outlawed in every State.

Juneteenth National Independence Day, Black Independence Day, was designated a US federal holiday in 2021.

This year, I didn't have Juneteenth off. One of my white colleagues said "Happy Juneteenth" to me in the hallway at work and then followed up with, "If you think about it, we are all enslaved to something." I nodded, smiled, and climbed the stairs to my office.

When I reached my desk, I recalled my colleagues' comments. You can never know everyone’s full intentions, but everyone has challenges. Difficulties may take physical, material, digital, or spiritual forms.


Our goal is to learn how to persevere. With tenacity, knowledge of our true selves, spiritual guidance, and the willingness to work with others, we can scale life's mountains.

Before my family left Mt. McNish, I witnessed many tears and complaints, but everyone reached the summit and finished together.

This weekend, start or join a cause dear to your heart. The offspring of enslaved Africans throughout the diaspora exemplify resilience. Our liberation struggle continues in many communities.

Subscribe to this blog or buy one of my books for support in getting closer to your potential. Watch the video below to learn how passion and purpose can give you the courage to find meaning and fulfillment in your work and hobbies.


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