Council Sponsor: Mandi Jo Hanneke and Pat DeAngelis Community Sponsor: Town Manager’s Office
WHEREAS, New Year’s Day, January 1, 1863, using his war powers as President, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, providing that all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free;” and,
WHEREAS, on June 19, 1865 almost 2 ½ years later Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the end of both the Civil War and slavery; and,
WHEREAS, Juneteenth is a reminder of the explicit mistreatment and cruelty that African Americans endured while building the Nation’s wealth, and commemorates the day of freedom for African Americans and acknowledges the resilience and determination of African Americans while honoring all those who have paved the road to freedom; and,
WHEREAS, Juneteenth is a second Independence Day to our Nation and a celebratory day of African American culture which recognizes the many contributions and influence that the African American community has made to our Country, and offers a time to reflect on the progress that must continue in order to eliminate the systemic barriers that prevent equal access and opportunity for African Americans; and,
WHEREAS, Texans began the celebration of Juneteenth in 1866, with community events such as parades, cookouts, prayer gatherings, musical performances, and historical cultural reading; some communities purchased land for Juneteenth celebrations, such as Emancipation Park in Houston, Texas; and,
WHEREAS, as freed families emigrated from Texas to other parts of the United States, they carried the Juneteenth celebration with them; and,
WHEREAS, with the support of Representatives throughout the state of Massachusetts, local officials, and community members, on July 24th, 2020 Governor Baker signed a bill that recognizes Juneteenth as an annual state holiday; and,
WHEREAS, The Town of Amherst recognizes its deep connection with Juneteenth and pays homage to the Civil War Soldiers from near and afar, including Amherst residents Christopher, John, Henry, James, and Charles Thompson who served in the 54th Regiment of the Massachusetts 5th Cavalry, who were among the soldiers in Texas for the liberation, and who are laid to rest in the West Cemetery located in Amherst Center.
NOW, THEREFORE, We the Amherst Town Council do hereby proclaim June 19th, 2021 as Juneteenth in Amherst, and in recognition that this is the first time that it will be celebrated in the Commonwealth as an official state holiday, we invite the residents of the Town to join us in a series of events on that day beginning with a tribute to our soldiers at 10:00AM in the West Cemetery, followed by a Commemoration and Civil War Tablet Exhibit at 11:00AM in the Bangs Center, a Community Jubilee on the Amherst Town Common starting at 1:00PM with food and entertainment, and culminating in a Sunset Reception at 6:00PM in the Mill District in North Amherst featuring an artist collective and fashion show.
Click here for more information on the Juneteenth Amherst 2021 Community Celebration taking place on Saturday, June 19 starting at 10:00 AM.
Click here for a PDF of the Juneteenth Proclamation
All Amherst Town Offices (Non-Emergency) will be closed on Friday, June 18th in observance of the Juneteenth Independence Day