Second annual Gloucester Juneteenth Festival to be held at Cape Ann Museum Green


Community members will gather on the Cape Ann Museum (CAM) Green at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 19 to celebrate Juneteenth.

The Juneteenth flag will be raised for the first time at Gloucester City Hall on Saturday, June 18 at 9:00 a.m.  Following the flag raising, the Sawyer Free Library will host a reading of a Juneteenth storybook at 10:30 a.m.

Gloucester resident Toni Waldron, a member of the CAM Community Engagement Committee, hosted the first Gloucester Juneteenth Festival in 2021. She organized the event in the span of just two weeks, assisted by the donations of local artists, farmers, and businesses.

“I put that on just as a citizen, hoping to spread awareness of the holiday, educate people as to the meaning of the holiday, but also to celebrate the joyous occasion that is the emancipation of enslaved Africans,” Waldron said.

The festival honors the important day of Black freedom in the United States. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, freedom did not become a reality for all Americans until General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to declare all enslaved people free.

“For African Americans and Black and brown Americans, that really marks the freedom day, but a day also to reflect on how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go,” Waldron said.

CAM Head of Education and Engagement Miranda Aisling said the museum is working towards reflecting a more equally representative history for all community members.

“The Cape Ann Museum is responsible for stewarding the history of this place, and that includes every person who’s lived here and their histories,” she said.  “It’s part of the museum’s ongoing commitment to make sure that every person from this area can walk into the museum and see themselves.”

The event is a collaboration with the North Shore Juneteenth Association, a Lynn nonprofit aiming to “dismantle racism by using events and programming as a tool for change,” according to the organization’s website.

“It’s an invitation to the community to join in that celebration, learn about the history of Juneteenth, the holiday and its meaning,” Waldron said.

She emphasized the importance of the North’s link to slavery.

“We’ve kind of lost part of our history in telling the history of enslaved Americans where we think that it all happened in the South,” Waldron said.  “Reestablishing that history ... is really important in our sight to a more just world.  If you think something’s finished and it’s all settled ... you don’t necessarily feel the same imperative to fight for justice.”

The museum is currently featuring an exhibition of quilts by Doris Prouty, “a resident of Gloucester for nearly 50 years, a self-taught African American quilter, [and] a beloved community member, a teacher and a mother.”  The exhibition will be displayed on the Green alongside the festivities.

Prouty’s “Going Home” quilt depicting the Tree of Life inspired artists Claudia Paraschiv and Sika Foyer to create the outdoor art installation “Coming Back Together — an intimate gathering space.”  In the piece, crafted by community members on June 11, tree stumps and branches are wrapped and woven with traditional African textiles.

“They’re arranged in a circle and invite the community to come together to sit, speak, share, just enjoy each other’s company,” Waldron said.

In the spirit of community, families are encouraged to bring a picnic to enjoy on the lawn.

 The festival will kick off at 10:00 a.m. with a reading of Frederick Douglass’ speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”

A Capoeira Roda performance at 11:00 a.m. will showcase traditional Brazilian martial arts.  Martial arts were disguised as dance so enslaved Africans could discreetly practice self defense without being caught.

Beginning at 11:30 a.m., community members will participate in a free yoga and sound bath healing event.

12:30 p.m. marks the beginning of a concert by Mix Up Mix Up, a reggae-jazz band performing re-worked jazz music.  During the concert, the community is invited to participate in arts and crafts such as t-shirt making, button making, and face painting.

The Gloucester Public High School Youth Peace Movement and the CAM Teen Arts Council will create a mural by inviting participants to use blue and red paint to make hand prints in the shape of a flag.

Dogtown Books, Suzie’s Store, and the Bookstore of Gloucester will provide free books that feature Black and brown main characters or speak to life in Black and brown communities.

Children will run a lemonade stand fundraiser for the diversification of Gloucester Public School libraries.

The day’s programming will center around celebration and education.

“I think if people can recognize that there’s a lot of value to uplifting and highlighting Black history on the North Shore, they will feel more invested in continuing to fight for a more just world,” Waldron said.

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