By Justin Cox

Killeen Daily Herald

Socrates said an unexamined life is not worth living.

The words of the ancient Greek philosopher came not from the mouth of a modern day professor on Friday night, but from a preacher.

With Black History Month coming to a close, the Rev. Philemon Brown, pastor of Harker Heights Community Church, shaped his message around the history of Jubilee Day, reminding people in the community that it's important that the message of that day not be lost on the masses.

It was Dec. 31, 1862, a time when blacks across America waited at churches to hear the message that the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed.

They waited to learn if they had been freed.

"It was a time before cell phones and text messages," Brown said, his powerful, booming voice easily gaining the attention of those in the audience who gathered at the Killeen Community Center to listen. "It's hard to imagine being in the Civil War era, waiting for President Lincoln to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. For some, it meant being married to their mate, for some it meant education, some meant living as a person.

"Black kids wanted to go to school like the whites wanted a holiday from school."

Brown questioned this time in history, questioned those in attendence about what they will leave as their legacies.

He told them their ancestors carved out their freedom into history, much like the Colorado River carved out the Grand Canyon.

"We've got to be passionate about things that affect our quality of life," he said. "We've got to do better. ? We get caught up in the semantics and yet miss the opportunities."

Phyllis Jones, president of the Killeen Branch NAACP, said this is a great time to educate people about the day, more than 100 years after the organization was formed and nearly 150 years since the Emcancipation Proclomation was signed.

"It's an education about what Jubilee Day actually is," Jones said. "A lot of people think Jubilee Day is just a day where you come together, you eat, and you hear the preacher preach. A lot of people don't know why they go to church. They don't know that it's history that sent them there."

Contact Justin Cox at or (254) 501-7568.

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