Juneteenth Freedom Festival: Staten Islanders Remember This Day In History With Powerful Reenactment
STATEN ISLAND, NY – “All slaves are free!”
Once the general read these words aloud, the newly released people cheered – and the crowd roared in celebration.
It was the scene on Saturday on the main stage at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Gardens when a group of volunteers re-enacted the June 19, 1865 readings of General Order No.3 and the Emancipation Proclamation.
The powerful presentation was part of Snug Harbor’s inaugural Juneteenth Freedom Festival, held on the institution’s grounds in Livingston.
From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., hundreds of people gathered on the grounds of Snug Harbor to participate in the Juneteenth event.
More than 50 borough organizations came together to celebrate and commemorate the day news of the liberation of people of African descent reached Texas.
“It means everything to be a part of it today,” said Jacqueline Loperdo, local organizer and host of the “Island Flavors” radio show on Maker Park Radio. “Our ancestors live with us and walk with us.
“There are many facets to African American history and learning about them helps all of our differences disappear. “
The festivities began with blessing ceremonies from the clergy and women to the crowds spread out across the great lawn of Snug Harbor.
Led by Dr. Marilyn Brown, a group of women then lit and circulated a candle to symbolize their proud heritage passed down over the years.
The Drum Circle performed upbeat African rhythms, which made way for the presentation of the American Flag and Pledge of Allegiance at Curtis High School JROTC.
MEMORY OF FREEDOM
The first performance began with a musical performance of “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke, conducted by two re-enactors from the steps of the main stage.
Next, volunteers began to re-enact slaves in Texas, first hearing their right to liberty when Major General Gordon Grander arrived in Galveston, Texas.
“The people of Texas are informed that, according to a proclamation by the executive of the United States, all slaves are free,” the general read in his newspaper. “This implies absolute equality of personal rights and property rights between former masters and slaves. “
The crowd of performers began to sing and dance – which were later joined by members of the audience.
Today’s message from most presenters was straightforward: remember and celebrate history.
“Our history, particularly on Staten Island, is a rich African American history,” added Loperdo. “The more we can teach and come together, the better off we will all be. “
Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, is an annual celebration commemorating the announcement of the liberation of people of African descent in Texas on June 19, 1865.
Despite the enactment of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in early 1863, Texans only heard of their right to liberty when Major General Gordon Grander arrived in Galveston to read the general order n ° 3 two years later, announcing the end of the civil war and enslavement.
The holiday was originally celebrated in Texas, but is now commemorated annually across the country on June 19.
In June 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that Juneteenth would become an official city holiday. Shortly after, Governor Andrew Cuomo designated the date as a public holiday, and earlier this week President Joe Biden declared it a federal holiday.