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Connecticut cities prepare for their Juneteenth celebrations

Tammy Exum
Joe Amon
Connecticut Public

Connecticut’s legislature voted to make Juneteenth an official state holiday last month. Celebrations this weekend feature speeches from local representatives, food vendors and art performances.

Communities across the state will hold local Juneteenth celebrations this weekend, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States in 1865.

West Hartford will hold its third annual Juneteenth celebration Sunday in Blue Back Square. The event will include local vendors, giveaways and speeches from state Reps. Stephanie Thomas and Tammy Exum.

Here's a look at Juneteenth celebrations across Connecticut

The celebration will also feature the unveiling of a Witness Stone installation by local eighth graders to honor people who were enslaved in West Hartford.

“I think it’s important for our community to come together to celebrate something so important,” said Adrienne Billings-Smith, a West Hartford town councilor and an organizer of the event. “But also to learn about what it truly was and what happened, because people don’t know their own history.”

Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021, and Connecticut voted to make it an official state holiday last month.

East Hartford is also planning its own celebration Saturday on the Town Green. The event will feature a live mural painting, as well as musical and spoken-word poetry performances.

“The event is almost a change in the tides,” said Harry Amadasun, an organizer and East Hartford Black Caucus vice president. “This is letting the community know that we’re looking to be more inclusive, we’re looking to celebrate our diversity more and that we’re also open to new ideas.”

Maxwell Zeff is the Spring 2022 Larry Lunden News Intern at CT Public. He assists The Accountability Project investigative news team.

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