Juneteenth Celebration Held in New Britain

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From the live music to the free food, an event had all the feelings of a party in New Britain on Monday.

But the festivities also had a meaningful purpose.

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“I think it’s important we celebrate freedom. I think that is the purpose of this day is to celebrate freedom of all Americans,” said Jerrell Hargraves, New Britain human rights and opportunities officer.

Dozens came out in honor of Juneteenth, which included a special flag raising in Central Park.

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“I think it’s a reflection of the progress our country has made. There are some significant milestones and Juneteenth is one of them,” said Rep. Jahana Hayes, D – 5th District.

This federal holiday commemorates June 19th, 1865 when federal troops arrived in Texas to ensure that all enslaved people were free. That was two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect.

“I think that’s what this is aimed at, right? It’s education and I think a lot of people have learning to do about what Juneteenth is and what it stands for,” said Mayor Erin Stewart, R – New Britain.

Community members could also stop by to learn about different organizations.

“We’re excited to be here,” said Dayna Snell, Queen Ann Nzinga Center executive director.

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This multicultural arts organization was selling works created by kids in their programs.

“We work really hard to help our kids feel good about themselves and their culture. The way that information is sort of taught to us is Black and brown people were slaves. But we weren’t slaves. We were enslaved. We were powerful people who overcame incredible oppression. And we still struggle with that,” Snell said.

Another hope is that everyone learns to embrace the day.

“It’s not a Black holiday. It’s a holiday for everyone to just recognize and see that we are moving through and we are freeing ourselves,” said Jessica Angelo-Julien, New Britain Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities chair.

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