Juneteenth festivities expanded for 2023

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Granby Celebrates Juneteenth will again fill Salmon Brook Park with music, speakers, education, food, and celebration. This second event, on Saturday, June 17, from 3:30 to 9 p.m., will be bigger and better than last year—and we’re counting on the weather to cooperate! Rain date is June 18.

Thanks to Granby Racial Reconciliation (GRR) and an enthusiastic Juneteenth committee, attendees last year were entertained, inspired, and educated. The 2023 lineup again has something for everyone. Performers will include Sazzy Brass, a jazz ensemble performing blues and jazz standards with an R&B flavor; Motown and contemporary hits by the SKJ Experiment (get out your dancing shoes!); and the Alvin Carter Project, with a lineup including jazz, R&B, gospel, and Afro-Caribbean music, to represent the diverse musical traditions of the African diaspora.

Tomaca, a Connecticut-based vocal performance artist and one of last year’s performers, says, “…even with that cold wind and rain last year, people still came out and celebrated. The whole day was a nice balance between education and entertainment. And it was nice to see Granby embrace African American culture and make an effort to learn some of the history.”

Juneteenth is the newest United States federal holiday. It was established on June 17, 2021, to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African Americans following the end of the Civil War in 1865. It marks the arrival of Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, to inform its enslaved African Americans of the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War that gave them freedom from slavery. By 1866, early church and community celebrations of Juneteenth in Texas spread across the South and have been recognized across the country in small and large events ever since.

Andre Silvers, a Windsor resident who attended last June with his family, says, “It was an enthusiastic and celebratory day, and it was produced with excellence. The collaboration and energy among the volunteers were impressive.” Silvers adds, “From the perspective of a Black man, to see a mostly white community recognizing this holiday and making an effort to honor it was a blessing.”

Silvers looks forward to attending again this year, as does Granby resident Bill Ross. “I’m embarrassed to admit that I had never even heard of Juneteenth,” Ross says. “I thought I was well informed. I taught public school in Baltimore for years, and the fact is, Black history should not be taught for just a month—it should be taught year-round as an integral part of the school curriculum. Our kids are really missing huge pieces of American history.”

Ross is the president of the Salmon Brook Historical Society, and he looks forward to again mounting its exhibit on Granby’s own African American history, which many of last year’s event goers enjoyed.

Vocal artist Steve King appreciated last year’s attention to great production. He was also grateful for the welcoming crowd—many of whom kept on dancing despite the rain—and the opportunity to perform in Granby that is involving its mostly white community in a celebration of Black history and culture.

This year’s celebration includes inspiring speakers such as Deacon Arthur Miller, multiple vendors, multicultural food trucks, other refreshments for sale and, new this year, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and a Double Dutch exhibition/challenge.

Grab the family and come down to Salmon Brook Park on June 17 and help Granby Celebrate Juneteenth! See more schedule details at granbyracialreconciliation.com