BLOOMFIELD, NJ -- The African American community has always been a vibrant part of the Bloomfield community. The recent proclamation of the Juneteenth holiday by the township and state, will be celebrated by Bloomfield township which will be hosting its first Juneteenth festival. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the official end of slavery in the United States.
“As we work to heal the injustices of the past, it is critical that we remember the history and continue to pass it on to future generations,” said Mayor Venezia. “This celebration will be a fantastic opportunity to hear from African American leaders in our community and learn about the progress that is needed to be made going forward.”
The two-day family friendly celebration will begin on Friday, June 18 at Bloomfield High School at 6pm, with a conversation hosted by Bloomfield Civil Rights Commissioner and Board of Education member, Kasey Dudley. Three prominent black New Jerseyans will discuss the Juneteenth holiday as well as its significance to the black community and American history.
“Bloomfield is a diverse community with a significant and rich African American population,” said Councilwoman Sarah Cruz. “I am proud of the work that we have done to bring our township together for this incredible event commemorating the Juneteenth holiday and I look forward to continuing to educate and inform residents about the significance of June 19.”
June 19, 1865 marks the moment when the last of America’s enslaved population learned of their freedom two and a half years after they were legally emancipated. On Saturday, festivities will begin at 10am at Bloomfield High School with an opening ceremony that includes the reading of the Juneteenth proclamation and comments from town officials, community leaders and students.
“On Juneteenth, we remember those that came before us and most importantly June 19 is a day to celebrate freedom and the ongoing journey to fulfill America’s promise,” said Councilwoman Dr. Wartyna Davis. “Thank you to all of the groups and community leaders that helped us to put this important event together.”
Following the ceremony, the Essex-Union marching band (official band of Bloomfield College) will lead a solidarity walk to Bloomfield College. At 12pm, founders of the GiveBack Hair Show will be hosting a town wide festival at Bloomfield Center (between Bloomfield Ave. and Lackawanna Pl.) that will include an array of local vendors, food, music and art and more!
Born out of discussions from the Bloomfield Board of Education Community Engagement Committee and the Bloomfield Civil Rights Commission, the idea became a reality. This collaborative celebration, organized with Terrance Bankston, Director of Student Affairs of Bloomfield College and former Bloomfield High School graduates Medina Wingo and Diamond Wyche, founders of the GiveBack Hair Show and a local small business pop up and members of the Bloomfield Civil Rights Commission will provide a two-day educational experience and entertainment for all ages.
“We have worked to honor and celebrate the resilience of African Americans, their contributions to American history, and our collective and continued pursuit of freedom,” said Kasey Dudley, the visionary of the Bloomfield Juneteenth Celebration and engine behind this commemoration.
The family-friendly festival will follow New Jersey COVID-19 guidelines. The hard work and effort in creating this community commemoration cannot go unnoticed without giving special thanks to the Bloomfield Board of Education and administration, the Bloomfield Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, Bloomfield Police, and the Bloomfield Town Council.