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West Hartford to Hold Second Annual Juneteenth CommUNITY Celebration

On June 19 and 20, West Hartford will hold its second annual ‘Juneteenth CommUNITY Celebration’ with a variety of events open to the public.

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A portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth,” Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 when a group of enslaved people in Galveston, TX, finally learned that they were free from the institution of slavery.

This announcement came almost two-and-a-half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. An order stating that all enslaved people were free changed the relationship between “former masters and slaves” as “employers and hired laborers.” Juneteenth is also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day.

West Hartford’s 2021 celebration begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 19 at the Old Center Cemetery for the Installment Ceremony of the Witness Stones Project. Through research, education, and civic engagement, the Witness Stones Project seeks to restore the history and to honor the humanity and contributions of enslaved individuals who helped build our communities.

At noon, the fun begins with music, games, performances, and more! The event begins with a community picnic held outside at West Hartford Town Hall, 50 South Main St. DORO Group will be offering a special Juneteenth-themed boxed lunch that is preordered and picked up at Town Hall. The southern-style lunch is complete with sweet tea, two pieces of roasted rotisserie chicken served cold, cornbread, creamy coleslaw and sweet potato pie. (click here to place your order). Shake Shack will also be scooping up free custard for dessert.

Local DJs B-EZ and Q-Boogie will be providing the non-stop dance hits, and performers of all ages will keep us inspired and entertained throughout the afternoon. There will also be local vendors and non-profit organizations you can visit as well. Each child will receive a Juneteenth Activity Packet and crayons. Come ready to show off your hula hoop and jump roping skills and sign-up for the contests at the event.

We are honored to announce our keynote speakers are Dr. Lorna Thomas-Farquharson of the West Hartford Board of Education and her daughter Juliana Farquharson of Sedgwick Middle School and founder of Students Against Racism. The speeches will begin with a traditional African drumming ceremony, performed by Alvin Carter Jr. and Friends of the World. Hartford’s Proud Drill, Drum & Dance Corp. will perform and get attendees on their feet as we make our way to Webster Walk in Blue Back Square.

A Juneteenth Art Exhibition entitled, “The Intersection of Community, Black Joy, Freedom, History, and Education” will take place from June 5-19 at the Noah Webster Library, 20 South Main Street. The library will be giving out free commemorative Juneteenth bookmarks during that period.

At 2:30 p.m., the MLK, Jr. mural, created by nationally renowned and local artist Corey Pane, along with help from the public, will officially be unveiled. This piece on the library building at pays homage to the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and West Hartford’s past, present and future and takes a moment to reaffirm our belief in liberty and justice for all.

West Hartford’s mural is part of CT Mural/RiseUp project MLK39 Racial Equity Mural Tour in which 39 murals will be created in 39 towns, one for each year of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life, from now through 2022.

Live music, speakers and special performances by Impact Choir and other local artists will be featured at Blue Back Square following the unveiling.

On Sunday, June 20, at 10 a.m., First Church of Christ Congregational, 12 South Main Street, will have a service inspired by the 1812 sermon by Re. Nathan Perkins widely published, “Fast Sermon.” Following the service, please join us at 11:30 a.m. for the official dedication of the newly-renamed Unity Green, to celebrate the progress of West Hartford’s commitment to social justice and community. There will be guest speakers and light refreshments.

Juneteenth 2021 celebration is the result of a partnership with Concerned Parents of Color, WHAASCO, Noah Webster Library, West Hartford Arts Commission, and the Town of West Hartford.

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