Juneteenth celebrates freedom and equality on-Island

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Martha’s Vineyard will celebrate Juneteenth on Friday, June 19, by holding a march in Vineyard Haven and a stand of solidarity in Aquinnah.

Juneteenth, also known as Jubilee Day or Freedom Day, commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union Gen. Gordon Granger read federal orders in Galveston, Texas, that all previously enslaved people in Texas were free.

Starting at 1 pm at Veterans Memorial Park in Vineyard Haven, marchers will begin to gather in preparation for a march that departs at 1:30 pm. The march will go all the way from Vineyard Haven, to Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs. Speeches will start at 3:30 pm, and those who want to join in are asked to wear a mask or face covering. The event will conclude at around 5 pm in Ocean Park.

Then, at 7 pm, people will begin to gather at the Aquinnah Circle near the Gay Head Cliffs in a showing of solidarity for racial equality and justice for all people. Speakers from the Island will talk on the importance of unity and equal rights for marginalized groups, followed by music and songs of healing from Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) members and others. The flyer for the event reads “Juneteenth is a ceremonial observance of the abolishment of slavery. Unfortunately, slavery continues in our country, most people don’t see it.”

The event is organized by Sassafras Earth Education, in collaboration with the M.V. Vegan Society.