In June 2021, Juneteenth was officially recognized as a federal holiday. A combination of the words “June” and “Nineteenth,” Juneteenth celebrates the arrival of Union troops in Galveston Bay, Texas on June 19th, 1865, where over 250,000 enslaved black individuals were declared free by executive decree, over two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. It is viewed by many as the United States’ “second independence day” or “Black Independence Day.”
It is important to acknowledge that while the recognition of Juneteenth as a national holiday is a step in the right direction, there is much work to be done to address systemic racism and the challenges Black Americans face, including a lack of access to safe, stable housing, adequate healthcare, and economic development/wealth-building opportunities, as well as the ongoing consequences of environmental injustices. We strive to continue to serve all of our community members and work to redress these issues through thoughtful, community-led local and regional planning.
One of the many ways Juneteenth is celebrated is through art exhibits, festivals, and historical storytelling. We’ve compiled a list of some upcoming regional events occurring in celebration of Juneteenth:
- Mansfield Juneteenth: Mansfield’s inaugural Juneteenth celebration will take place on Thursday, June 16th at Harry Chase Park beginning at 6pm. The event’s theme will be exploring Mansfield’s history regarding slavery and subsequent anti-slavery history. The event will feature a research presentation, several speakers including Debra Britt, President of the National Black Doll Museum, and a performance from the Mansfield School Choir. This event is presented by the Town of Mansfield and the Mansfield Democratic Town Committee.
- Safe Station: New Bedford’s Underground Railroad Exhibit: Safe Station: New Bedford’s Underground Railroad is an exhibit featuring local artists’ stories of self-emancipated people, the history of the Underground Railroad, and the New Bedford abolition movement. Presented by Design Art Technology Massachusetts (DATMA) and in collaboration with the New Bedford Historical Society and New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park, the exhibit will also feature walking tours and local history. The exhibit will be open to the public from June 16th to September 12th on the YMCA green.
- Attleboro Juneteenth Festival: The town’s third annual Juneteenth festival takes place on Saturday, June 18th from 11am-6pm at Capron Park, 201 County Street, Attleboro, MA. This event is hosted by the Attleboro Juneteenth committee in conjunction with the National Black Doll Museum.
- Fall River Juneteenth Festival: Fall River’s Juneteenth Festival: Celebrating Freedom will take place on Saturday, June 18th at the Kennedy Pavilion Park from 12pm-6pm. Presented by D’H.O.O.D. Inc. (Doors of Hope Opportunity and Open Diversity), the festival will feature vendors, food, prizes, and live music.
- Buy Black New Bedford: The 2nd annual Buy Black New Bedford will take place on Sunday, June 19th at the Rotch-Jones-Duff House from 10am-3pm. Hosted by Buy Black NB, the event will feature a selection of black-owned businesses from across the South Coast.
- Taunton Juneteenth Festival: The lawn at First Parish Church will be transformed to celebrate Juneteenth on Monday, June 20th from 12pm-3pm. This event is organized by Josephine Dwuye, Gloria Palmer and Alison Rosa with special participation by the Taunton High School African American Club.