Manchester to Host Annual Juneteenth Community Celebration

Mark your calendars for the Town of Manchester’s annual Juneteenth Community Celebration on Saturday, June 22. Come commemorate the Juneteenth holiday alongside the local community and celebrate all that Manchester has to offer.

The Juneteenth Community Celebration will take place on Saturday, June 22 from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM at the Eastside Neighborhood Resource Center, 153 & 163 Spruce Street. This year’s activities include a variety of music and cultural performances, a Black-owned food and vendor market, a Juneteenth-themed art exhibit, family activities and more.

This year’s stage schedule is as follows:

  • Town of Manchester Introduction & Libation Ceremony (11:00 AM – 11:15 AM)

  • Black Joy Youth Poetry Contest (11:30 AM – 12:00 PM)

  • FriendZWorldMusic (12:00 PM – 12:30 PM)

  • Hartford’s Proud Dance Group (1:30 PM – 2:00 PM)

In addition, the slate of black-owned food and artisanal vendors includes:

  • African American & Black Affairs Council

  • Buffalo Soldiers

  • Cream Time (ice cream and novelties)

  • Hippie Love (crystals)

  • King of Pearl (authentic Philly cheesesteaks)

  • Kona Ice (shaved ice)

  • Law Teez Apparel (various clothing and apparel items)

  • Pop’s Hot Diggity Dogs (hot dogs)

  • Thomas’ Smokey Pit Stop (barbeque)

  • Truly Yours

  • The Wright Slice of Cheesecake (cheesecake)

Juneteenth is an annual commemoration of Union troops freeing over 250,000 people from slavery and bondage in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This signified that the “Federal Government would not relent until the last enslaved people in America were free.” In his now annual proclamation, President Joe Biden honored the Juneteenth holiday, celebrating our country’s progress while also recognizing our need for continued work towards true equality and justice for all.

“On Juneteenth, we commemorate that day and honor the tireless work of abolitionists who made it their mission to deliver the promise of America for all Americans.  We honor the generations of activists who have advanced the need for our Nation to recognize Juneteenth as a way to reconcile our past as we build a new American future together,” President Biden said in his Juneteenth proclamation last summer. “While the opposition may seem fierce and the fire of conflict may be intense, the story of Juneteenth reveals that freedom, justice, and equality will always prevail.”

For Rhonda Philbert, the president of Manchester’s own African American and Black Affairs Council (AABAC) and the founder and CEO of Multiple Perspectives: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, Coaching and Consulting, events such as the Juneteenth Community Celebration mirror the mission of community organizations such as AABAC.

“The goal of AABAC is to uphold all aspects of the lived experiences of Black people through advocacy, education, and community endeavors. We strive to eliminate discrimination resulting in the injustices experienced by Black people in Manchester,” Philbert said. 

Events such as the Juneteenth Community Celebration not only honor the spirit of the Juneteenth holiday, Philbert said, but uplift the community, spotlighting the culture, joy and experiences of our country’s Black population. Only with a balance of these ideas can a Juneteenth celebration truly be authentic and just, Philbert said.

“The Juneteenth Community Celebration is significant because it shines a spotlight on a pivotal point in American history that highlights the lived experiences of Black people in America,” Philbert said. “The Juneteenth Celebration highlights the atrocity of the enslavement of our ancestors. However, this enslavement does not define who we are as a group of people. Juneteenth also highlights our resilience, our joy, our culture, our pride, our hurt, our trauma, and most importantly, our hope.”

For further information on the African American and Black Affairs Council and to see their slate of upcoming programming, including Black Scientists Rock, a program that aims to “expose youth to the contributions of Black scientists and Black professionals in the STEM field,” please contact AABAC at [email protected] 

Senior Recreation Supervisor Calvin Harris, who has served on the Juneteenth planning committee since the inaugural event in 2020,  said that the Juneteenth Community Celebration is emblematic of the work carried out by both the Department of Leisure, Family and Recreation and the Town of Manchester at broad.

“People should appreciate and respect history, culture, differences, perspective and knowledge,” Senior Recreation Supervisor Calvin Harris said. “When we are able to commemorate [Juneteenth], we are able to honor those that have paved the way for us thus far. We as a community have worked hard to change the narrative of Manchester. Although there is still work to be done, we are setting ourselves up for success by accepting one another.”

Come celebrate alongside friends, family and neighbors at this summer’s Juneteenth Community Celebration on Saturday, June 22. Come enjoy the event’s diverse slate of performers, food and market vendors, family activities and so much more.

For further information on the Juneteenth Community Celebration, please contact the Neighborhoods & Families Division at (860)647-3089.

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