On Friday, June 19, a day known as Juneteenth, New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker and Board of Alders President Tyisha Walker-Myers announced the day will be observed as a holiday in the city.
As the announcement came out from city hall, hundreds were gathered across the street on the New Haven Green for a Juneteenth march and celebration event.
People attending the event say Juneteenth 2020 is a celebration of freeing the last slaves at work in Texas, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. But they say they’re also pushing for liberation today.
The group of several hundred people marched from the town green to East Rock Park for spoken word, stories, music food and unity. It began with the diverse crowd singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” often referred to as the Black National Anthem.
People were looking forward to a day of peace and honor. They also were considering the past, where we are as a society in the present, and what New Haven will look like in the future.
“Being surrounded by everyone, like, white, black, everyone just hearing people actually say black lives matter really just...it felt good. It felt really good,” said Maria Gant of New Haven.
“Juneteenth is even more special because of everything that's been going on,” said Nakitta Brown of New Haven. “It's glad to see everybody's coming together, a mixture of races and colors. And realizing that together, we need to work on together in order to make any real change as far as racism.”