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Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Juneteen Events
On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, where General Gordon Granger announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state were free by executive decree*. This day, which came to be known as “Juneteenth” (a portmanteau of June and nineteenth), commemorates the end of slavery and marks our country’s second independence day. On June 17, 2021, it officially became a federal holiday. 

In 2008, Vermont became the 29th state in the nation to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday, which it does on the third Saturday of June as Juneteenth National Freedom Day. 

On June 19, 2020, Governor Phil Scott signed a proclamation making June 19 Juneteenth Recognition Day in Vermont.  

Here is how municipalities around the state will observe Juneteenth this year. Note that some plans are tentative as of this writing (more than a month before the event), and while we plan to update the links below, we suggest you also seek event information through other sources.

Bennington. The Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union plans to host a Juneteenth celebration on either June 11 or June 18 at Mount Anthony Union Middle School. Their intent is to educate the public of the importance of our nation’s newest federal holiday. They hope to have speakers and notable members of the wider Black community express themselves and elaborate on the vital work they feel still needs to be done. 

Bethel. The town’s Equity and Inclusion Committee is planning an event at noon at the Bethel Bandshell

Brownington. The Old Stone House Museum and Historic Village marks the occasion with a museum open house and a new exhibit, “In a Different Hue: Race and Representation,” which focuses on disenfranchised people in the Northeast Kingdom. A dedication ceremony on June 19 will be free to attend! Look for details on their event calendar

Burlington. This year’s Juneteenth Celebration will feature dozens of activities at six venues around the city from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on June 19. “The Black Experience 2022” will showcase various components of Vermont’s thriving and diverse Black communities, including food, visual arts, music, and education on Saturday, June 18, from 4 to 7 p.m. 

Charlotte. In celebration of African American culture, freedoms, and our human connectedness, the Clemmons Family Farm asks the community to consider this question: What legacy do you want to build and leave for the next generations? Attendees will experience Clemmons family storytelling, musical and aerial performances, and soul food samples through Building Legacies that Matter. They will engage with other Clemmons Family Farm collaborating artists on June 18 and 19 to co-create visual art using their own silhouettes combined with hip hop, poetry, and visual arts that express the legacies they want to build. Admission and food are free but advance registration is required. 

Essex. The Town and Village of Essex will celebrate Juneteenth at the Fort Ethan Allen Parade Grounds and Bandstand from 2-6 p.m. on June 19 with arts, entertainment and, of course, speeches. The event will feature the history of the Buffalo Soldiers’ tour of duty at the Fort from 1909-1913 along with Vermont Proposal 2, an Amendment on the November 2022 ballot that would add language to the Vermont Constitution saying, “slavery and indentured servitude in any form are prohibited.” (Currently, Vermont is the only state that has a constitutional provision permitting involuntary servitude to pay a debt, damage, fine, or cost.) 

Hartford. Hartford’s third annual Juneteenth celebration will take place at Lyman Park in White River Junction on Saturday, June 18, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Scheduled speakers include U.S. Congressman Peter Welch; State Senator Kesha Ram-Hinsdale; State Representative Kevin “Coach” Christie; Dia Draper, Assistant Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Dartmouth College; and Shirley Jefferson, Associate Dean of Student Affairs at Vermont Law School. The event will include musical and theatrical performances. 

Winooski. The City of Winooski and Downtown Winooski, with support from community leaders, are hosting an event to acknowledge, educate and celebrate the importance of Juneteenth. To get involved as a volunteer, performer, or presenter, visit http://downtownwinooski.org/juneteenth/

* General Order No. 3.

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. 

“The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

By order of Major General Granger
F.W. Emery, Major [Assistant-Adjutant General]