SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Marches, vigils and peaceful protests will take place across western Massachusetts Friday to recognize Juneteenth.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, which is when the remaining enslaved African Americans in Texas were freed.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and a representative of the Brethren Community Foundation gave remarks on the steps of City Hall at 10 a.m. Sarno read a proclamation declaring today as Juneteenth day in the city of Springfield.
“Though we continue to deal with the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, it is important to try and continue on with a sense of normalcy, and this includes holding these special events to commemorate and celebrate the historical events of our nations history. Although this year’s Juneteenth celebration and proclamation reading won’t have the usual crowd and great event, I know we are all together in spirit,” Sarno said in a news release sent to 22News.
According to Wikipedia, on June 19, 1865, Union soldiers under the command of Major General Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston, Texas, and read federal orders that all previously enslaved people in Texas were free. Although President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had formally freed all enslaved people almost two and a half years earlier, it had little impact in Texas as it was the most remote of the slave states and had a low presence of Union troops, so enforcement of the proclamation had been slow and inconsistent.
A Black Lives Matter stand out will also take place at Picknelly Field in Springfield from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. as well as a “Black Business Matters” March which will start at Deberry Park at 2 p.m. and end at City Hall.
The City of Northampton will make the anniversary with a silent vigil at 8 p.m. at Sojourner Truth Memorial Park. The towns of Hampden and Wilbraham will come together for a Juneteenth demonstration at Hampden Town Hall at 5:30 p.m.