Celebrating in Boston – NBC Boston


Boston is celebrating Juneteenth Saturday for the first time as a federal and Massachusetts state holiday.

June 19 commemorates the end of slavery. There will be food, music and other entertainment at a large ceremony Saturday at Franklin Park, with other events being held around the city.

The Museum of Fine arts, in partnership with New Roots AME church, will host an exhibition about African worship and the end slavery in America.

You can find pop-up shops and live music at District Hall, or you can shake it off at a virtual dance party hosted by the Boston Ujima Project and other groups. The Dorchester Art Project is hosting a paint party from 3:30 to 6 p.m.

Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Kim Janey came together Friday in Roxbury’s Nubian Square to ring in the holiday weekend. Both discussed the cultural work that lies ahead for the region.

“The work to make sure we have great schools for all of our kids in Boston. Safe playgrounds,” Janey said. “Making sure that we’re dealing with environmental justice issues that too often disproportionately impact communities of color.”

When it comes to environmental justice, Rev. Mariama White-Hammond works to make sure equity is included.

“Affordable housing and making sure we make it possible for the residents who love this city to be able to remain is really important,” the city’s chief of environment said.

Friday night’s gathering brought together people of different ages and races, not just honoring the end of slavery, but the joys of Black culture — a subject that is explored in author Thaddeus Miles’ book.

“Being able to celebrate the innovations, the excellence, the creativity and the joy of being Black versus having to always talk about the trauma and the pain of being black,” Mile said.

Pain transitioning to joy might look like Juneteenth becoming a state holiday last year, or even a national holiday this year. But leaders believe with that joy should come recognition of what all remains.

“Make sure that we reflect. Make sure that we celebrate. That we come together as a community, as family but also that we put in the work,” Janey said.

Earlier in the day as she and other city residents helped raise a Juneteenth flag over Boston City Hall, Janey — the first Black Bostonian to hold the city’s top political office — said Black residents of the city have been celebrating the holiday for years, but welcomed the federal action.

“It means that there is a recognition of the inequality that has been here in our country over a number of years, decades, and centuries and that people are willing to do that tough work and that we’re going to reflect on that and make sure that we’re rolling up our sleeves to tackle what remains,” Janey told reporters.

Among those participating in the flag-raising ceremony was Lt. Col. Enoch Woodhouse, who is one of the last surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen, the primarily Black military pilots and airmen who fought in World War II.

“There are some areas that are not going to accept it,” the 94-year-old Woodhouse said. “But that’s why I’m happy to be a Bostonian.”

Baker last July signed legislation officially making June 19 a state holiday after protests gripped the nation following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. The move came more than a decade after the state’s only Black governor, Deval Patrick, signed the state’s first proclamation commemorating Juneteenth in Massachusetts.

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