GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A Juneteenth celebration was held in Greenfield with their first Annual Juneteenth Cultural and Youth event.

The gathering of several dozen Franklin County residents would later hear from their honored guest: Representative Bud L. Williams of the 11th Hampden District, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Racial Equity, Civil Rights, and Inclusion.

“Juneteenth has been celebrated by the African American community for the past 156 years. Now that our Commonwealth and our Nation has recognized this day as an American holiday, it is great to see many cities across the country taking the opportunity to bring their community together to celebrate the triumph of the human spirit over the cruelty of slavery and honoring the strength, endurance, and faith of our African American ancestors,” states Williams. 

Among those who spoke alongside Williams, was the Chair of the Joint Committee on Racial Equity Civil Rights, and Inclusion, who co-sponsored the amendment for Juneteenth to become a state holiday. Greenfield Mayor Roxann Wedgartner and Franklin’s Director of Racial Justice Community Engagement Traci Talbert also spoke during the event.

Traci Talbert told 22News, “This is Greenfield’s first Juneteenth celebration. We want to get Greenfield to be a little more welcoming. They’re really working hard to be more inviting to people of color.”

In partnership with Moving Mountains and Advocacy for Black-Owned Businesses, this event, was open to the public, and organized by Mpress Bennu, a community organizer and Human Rights Commissioner. Support also came from city and county officials, as well as the Fire and Police Departments.

“The leadership and collaboration in producing this event is a step in the right direction. It is a testament of the town’s active engagement in the work of confronting the legacy of racialized injustices.” states Bennu. “The vision of our Juneteenth Cultural and Youth event is to uplift all community members in celebration of freedom, and to facilitate intergenerational learning, and healing towards racial and economic equity and harmony. We are stronger together.” 

The event was held at an Energy Park in Greenfield located at 50 Miles Street from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and feature entertainment, food, giveaways, and more.

“Juneteenth gives everyone a time to speculate and to understand the true history that has led to pronounced inequalities throughout this country. Black Americans continue to lag-behind in overall wealth accumulation, home ownership, and retirement savings,” states Williams.

“Juneteenth also gives us the opportunity to envision freedom in the form of financial empowerment for all, and to ignite the efforts that advance the economic progression and cultural arts. Greenfield’s Juneteenth first annual Cultural and Youth event embodies the essence of the occasion, and I am looking forward to seeing you all there,” he added.