Celebrate Freedom on Juneteenth
Community-Based Events & Resources Invite Families to Learn, Celebrate & Reflect on Freedom
These days, when a monumental government decision is made, technology allows the news to travel quickly and we are able to find out almost immediately. However, before the internet and telephones and even motorized vehicles were invented, information took a lot longer to travel. News could take days, weeks, even months to spread, and the further information had to travel, the longer it took for it to get there. In the case of the Emancipation Proclamation, for example, word of Lincoln’s granting of freedom to slaves in Confederate states took nearly six months to reach some parts of the country! While the Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1st, 1863, word of emancipation took until June 19th to travel from Washington, DC to Galveston, Texas!
The day upon which Texas slaves learned of the Emancipation Proclamation is celebrated today as Juneteenth. Originally celebrated only in Texas, the day has served as a commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States since 1865. Across the country – and even around the world – Juneteenth is celebrated in order to honor the struggles of those who endured slavery, and to remind us of the ways in which our country’s history has affected (and continues to affect) our current society.
Community-Based Education Events
Monday, June 13th -Sunday, June 19, 9:30am-5pm
“Freedom Week” at Old Sturbridge Village offers historical programs to celebrate Juneteenth. This holiday commemorates the ending of slavery in the United states and the day on which Texas slaves learned of the Emancipation Proclamation. Daily performances will highlight the experience of American slaves, particularly local figures. Storyteller Tammy Denease Richardson will portray Elizabeth “Mum Bett” Freeman, a woman who lived in the Berkshires and became the first black enslaved person to gain her freedom in a court of law based on the principle of general equality. Denease will also play Belinda Royall, a woman who was sold into slavery to the Royall Family and later taken to Medford, Massachusetts.Belinda petitioned the government for reparations. Andre Keitt will present Keys to the Keepers, a presentation about the ways in which slaves preserved their African culture through storytelling and folklore. On June 18th and 19th only, The Ray of Hope Project musicians and actors will perform participatory music programs which incorporate history and primary source readings. 800-733-1830. 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road. Sturbridge, MA. (Adults $$. 17 and under $. 2 and under FREE)
Sunday, June 19, 4pm
The day upon which Texas slaves learned of the Emancipation Proclamation is celebrated today as Juneteenth. Originally celebrated only in Texas, the day has served as a commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States since 1865. Across the country, Juneteenth is celebrated in order to honor the struggles of those who endured slavery, and to remind us of the ways in which our country’s history has affected (and continues to affect) our current society. Learn more about this historic day through storytelling, and celebrate with song at Old Deerfield’s Brick Church. 413-628-0262. 77 Old Main Street. Deerfield, MA. ($)
Sunday, June 19, 4pm-7pm
In a time of globalization and instantaneous information spreading, it can be difficult to imagine news traveling slowly. Juneteenth, on June 19th, commemorates the ending of slavery in the United states and the day on which Texas slaves learned of the Emancipation Proclamation. Union General Gordon Granger read the news aloud at Galveston Island. Juneteenth is a time to honor those who endured slavery, and reflect on the ways in which our society continues to be shaped by this history. Arise for Social Justice invites you to a Juneteenth celebration at Ruth Elizabeth Park. There will be food, activities, and entertainment for the whole family. 413-734-4948. Hancock Street and Hickory Street. Springfield, MA. (FREE)
Community-Based Education Resource
In addition to learning about the importance of observing Juneteenth by participating in these community-based learning events, families can learn more about the process of securing freedom for African-Americans by reading tales included in Freedom Stories of the Pioneer Valley. A collection of tales about folks living in the Pioneer Valley who worked to ensure their own freedom and/or the freedom of others, Freedom Stories of the Pioneer Valley details the lives of many important former Pioneer Valley residents.
From some of Florence’s first activist community members to early Amherst residents doing jail time for saving a child from being sold into slavery, the stories convey the fear, uncertainty, and injustices endured even by legally freed African-Americans living in Massachusetts. Learning about the Pioneer Valley’s history with slavery and African-American rights can help children develop context for the information that they learn about the Civil War, emancipation, and our country’s prolonged struggle to create equality. Being able to put large-scale events into a local context, and to imagine them happening in familiar places, makes stories truly hit home.
- All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom (by Angela Johnson)
- Juneteenth (by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson)
- Juneteenth for Mazie (Floyd Cooper)
- Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom (by Charles Taylor)
- The Story of Juneteenth: An Interactive History Adventure (by Steven Otfinoski)
- Juneteenth Jamboree (by Carole Boston Weatherford)