Two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation, slavery was still prevalent in the South—during the Civil War, Union laws held no jurisdiction in Confederate states. But on June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger and his Union soldiers reached Galveston, Texas with the news that the war was over and that all enslaved peoples must be freed. The commemoration of this historic day was coined “Juneteenth,” and Americans have celebrated it each year since.
As part of their 2014 Summer of Unity and Reconciliation, New Progressive Baptist Church and Kingston’s End the New Jim Crow Action Network (ENJAN) are co-sponsoring the city’s second annual Juneteenth celebration, “Keeping History Alive,” on Saturday, June 14. This year’s celebration fill focus on the ways that African American history tends to repeat itself—particularly in the form of modern-day racial profiling and mass incarceration. The event will offer lectures and discussions on the theme, as well opportunities to enjoy family entertainment, share culture, and sample delicious food.
This year’s program will also include special tributes to Reverend G. Modele Clarke and Rabbi Jonathan Kligler, two figures who have worked tirelessly to combat racism and oppression in local communities. Clarke, who advocates for street and prison outreach programs, is president of the board of directors of Save Them Now, a reentry program for ex-felons. Kligler is leader of the Woodstock Jewish congregation Kehillat Lev Shalem and an accomplished folk singer and guitarist.
Juneteenth comes to New Progressive Baptist Church in Kingston on Saturday, June 14, 3-6pm. For more information, contact Odell Winfield at (914) 388-3092.