Vermonters will be celebrating Juneteenth this year with storytelling, music, food and reflection.
This year’s festivities mark the second since the date became a national holiday in 2021 and 14 years since it has been a state holiday in Vermont.
June 19, known as Juneteenth, commemorates the day when word of the ending of slavery reached the final portion of the U.S. in Galveston, Texas in 1865. This announcement freed the last 250,000 enslaved people there, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
Communities across Chittenden County will be hosting festivities as well as prominent historical sites featuring the African American experience in Vermont.
Museums celebrate Juneteenth
Several museums that tell the stories of African Americans in Vermont will be hosting Juneteenth celebrations.
The Old Stone House Museum & Historic Village in Brownington, where Alexander Twilight was an educator and legislator after becoming the first African American to obtain a college degree in America in1823, will be unveiling a new exhibit on June 19. “In a Different Hue: Race and Representation,” which details the lives of disenfranchised people in the Northeast Kingdom, will be dedicated that day and will be free to the public. Light refreshments, including ice cream, as well as children’s activities will be available.
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The Rokeby Museum is also open for free admission on Juneteenth. The museum, once a sheep farm owned by an abolitionist family of Quakers, is known for its role in the Underground Railroad.
The Clemmons Family Farm will host a variety of events throughout the Juneteenth weekend. The late 1700s-era farmhouse and property is one of the few African-American owned farms in Vermont. The Clemmons family purchased it in the 1960s and restored the historic buildings and continue to operate the farm.
This year’s festivities are centered around the theme Building Legacies that Matter. Programs include a storytelling presentation titled “How Great Grandma Margie Ran Away. Twice.”, traditional African-American folklife games, boxes of food samples with soul food historical significance, musical and aerial performances plus a creative workshop for young children to articulate what they want their legacy to be.
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Some activities will take place both weekend days, others are offered one day or the other. As many as 60 people can be accommodated each day, so advance registration is required. Admission is free.
Community celebrations in Chittenden County
Many communities also are hosting their own Juneteenth events.
Burlington’s “Juneteenth: A Love Story” includes more than a dozen musical acts, free food from a variety of vendors, an awards ceremony Friday night honoring Black change makers, a talk about the Black lived experience in Vermont, a parade, poetry contest, basketball and a gospel brunch. Events begin Friday night and last through Sunday. A schedule of times and locations can be found at https://www.btvreib.com/general-7-1.
- Event: Juneteenth: A Love Story, Friday, June 17 through Sunday, June 19.
- Location: various locations across Burlington including City Hall Park, Battery Park, the Waterfront, Main Street and Roosevelt Park.
- More information: https://www.btvreib.com/about-4
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Winooski‘s Juneteenth Celebration “honors Black freedom and joy in all forms,” according to event promotion. It will feature a variety of performances musical and otherwise, food vendors, booths and activities for the whole community.
The Essex community will gather at Fort Ethan Allen to celebrate Juneteenth and the Buffalo Soldiers’ contribution to American history. The event will also detail Vermont Proposal 2, an amendment that, if adopted, would add language to the Vermont Constitution explicitly prohibiting indentured servitude of any kind.