Commemorating Juneteenth

Saturday, June 19 is the 156th anniversary of the nation’s oldest commemoration of the end of slavery

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On Thursday, June 17th. Wilmington’s Mayor Mike Purzycki directed that the Juneteenth flag be flown proudly in Freedom Plaza, a public square that links City of Wilmington, New Castle County, and State government offices on French Street in Downtown Wilmington.

Wilmington City Government is celebrating its first official Juneteenth holiday, which was created through a City Council Ordinance earlier this year and signed by the Mayor. The City initially commemorated Juneteenth in 2020 as a holiday as directed by Mayor Purzycki through an Executive Order.

The Mayor today urged City residents to reflect on the history of Juneteenth and to celebrate its meaning and purpose.
 
Juneteenth is our nation’s oldest national commemoration of the end of slavery. It marks the date—June 19, 1865—when a Union Civil War General rode into Galveston, Texas to announce that the war had ended and that the 250,000 slaves in the state of Texas were declared free by the United States Army.

Even though President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, which declared more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states to be free, two years would pass before the news reached African Americans living in Texas. Almost immediately, celebrations began in Texas among former slaves involving prayer, music, food, and dancing.

Celebrations around the nation continue in various forms today.
 
“Our national and local history of slavery and of racial and social injustice is admittedly long, much too complicated, and so very, very disheartening,” said Mayor Purzycki.

“However, there are reasons to believe that a new era of respect, appreciation, and support for each other is possible, and will happen. Juneteenth is yet another opportunity for us to learn about and confront our history. What we learn should help us all become more understanding of each other and more tolerant of the ethnic and cultural ideals and values that bind us and contribute to a stronger City and nation.”  
 
The Mayor said the Juneteenth commemoration should fortify our Citywide commitment to being fully accountable and transparent as we push for an end to systemic racism and the removal of any obstacles that threaten equality and freedom for all people.

There are a number of Juneteenth celebrations over the next few days in Wilmington. They include:
• Juneteenth @ Urban Artist Exchange
1500 North Walnut Street
Friday, June 18, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
• Juneteenth Past to Present Virtual Program
Mitchell Center for African American Heritage (FREE Online Event)
Friday, June 18, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Registration required: dehistory.org/calendar/mcaah-juneteenth   
• Juneteenth Caravan
Christiana Park at 4th and Church streets
Leaves at 10:30 a.m.
For more information: Call 302.314.5863 or email juneteenthdelaware@gmail.com
• The Teen Warehouse Juneteenth Celebration/Open Streets
1121 Thatcher Street
Saturday,June 19, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Open Streets from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.)
For more information., visit the Facebook link here.
• Wilmington Library Juneteenth Festival at Rodney Square
Rodney Square, 1000 North Market Street
Saturday, June 19, 12 to 6 p.m.
Registration required: wilmington.lib.de.us/
• 2nd Annual Beyond Juneteenth: Egungun Festival
Delaware Art Museum, 2310 Kentmere Parkway
Saturday, June 19, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information., visit the Facebook link here.
• Delaware Juneteenth Association’s 4th Annual Freedom Gala
DoubleTree by Hilton, 700 North King Street
Doors Open at 4:30 p.m.; Event Starts at 5 p.m.
Tickets: $60 (Proceeds benefit the DEJA Scholarship Fund)
Purchase tickets at: dejafreedomgala.eventbrite.com
For more information: Call 302.314.5863 or email juneteenthdelaware@gmail.com
• Honoring Delaware’s Freedom Seekers: “Juneteenth Celebration Route”
Delaware Greenways Jack A. Markell Trail (Wilmington Riverfront – New Castle
           Battery Park)