(MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ) -- As part of New Jersey’s first official commemoration of Juneteenth, Middlesex County will mark the holiday with County-wide celebrations beginning with the Central Jersey Chapters of NAACP and the Arts Institute of Middlesex County mural painting event in New Brunswick on Wednesday, June 16 and Thursday, June 17, and concluding with multiple flag raisings across the County.
The events are hosted with the Metuchen – Edison Area, New Brunswick Area, and Perth Amboy Area Branches of the NAACP in partnership with the Arts Institute of Middlesex County and the New Brunswick Cultural Center, Inc.
“Middlesex County is proud to be part of New Jersey’s first official celebration of Juneteenth,” said Middlesex County Commissioner Director Ronald G. Rios. “In close partnership with NAACP branches throughout the County, the Arts Institute of Middlesex County and the New Brunswick Cultural Center, Inc. have organized a slate of events that celebrate Juneteenth while educating the public about this important day in our nation’s history. Commemorating Juneteenth, the day on which the last enslaved people in America learned of their freedom, honors our fellow Americans who suffered the atrocities of slavery.”
“As New Jersey recognizes Juneteenth as an official State holiday for the first time, we in Middlesex County are proud of the way our arts community is coming together to honor this important event in our nation’s history,” said Middlesex County Commissioner Chanelle Scott McCullum. “In addition to offering a mixture of cultural and educational events, the Juneteenth celebrations are a combination of in-person and virtual events to ensure they are accessible to all.”
Juneteenth is a time to celebrate how far Black Americans have come while assessing the many challenges still ahead. Two months after Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865, effectively ending the Civil War, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and on June 19, two days after his arrival, Granger stood on the balcony of a building in downtown Galveston and read General Order No. 3 to the assembled crowd below. “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free,” he pronounced.
This was the first time that many learned of the Emancipation Proclamation, which President Lincoln had issued two and a half years before.
Granger’s announcement in Galveston moved across Texas, creating jubilation wherever the state’s 250,000 enslaved people were found. A year later, a spontaneous holiday called Juneteenth —formed from the words June and nineteenth — began to be celebrated.
Middlesex County’s Juneteenth festivities will begin with the closing of one of New Brunswick’s busiest intersections for a mural painting event on Wednesday, June 16 and Thursday, June 17. Artist Luis-Miguel Caraballo (aka Louie Blaka) will lead the mural painting at the intersection of George Street, Liberty Street, and Livingston Avenue. The celebration will continue with a combination of live and virtual events in New Brunswick and throughout the County, including music and dance performances and speeches.
The full list of Middlesex County’s Juneteenth events includes:
* Wednesday, June 16 from 10:00am – 5:00pm and Thursday, June 17 from 10:00am – 5:00pm: Central Jersey Chapters of NAACP (Greater New Brunswick, Metuchen Edison, and Perth Amboy branches) and the Arts Institute of Middlesex County mural painting at the intersection of George Street, Liberty Street, and Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick.
* Wednesday, June 16 at 7:00pm: “Juneteenth: A Reflection on Social Justice and Emancipation” at East Brunswick Public Library, 2 Jean Walling, Civic Center Drive, East Brunswick. Click here for more information.
* New Brunswick Area NAACP in-person program in Monument Square Park, 2 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick. Event will include live performances, speeches, and nonprofit organizations focusing on vaccination information and public health. Takes place on Thursday, June 17 from 3:00pm– 4:00pm
* Saturday, June 19 at 11:30am: NAACP Metuchen Edison Area Branch Juneteenth virtual/hybrid celebration including music and dance performances and speeches. To register, click here
* Saturday, June 19 at 3:00pm: Juneteenth Flag Raising at City Hall Circle in Perth Amboy. Click here for more information.
Additional information regarding Middlesex County’s Juneteenth celebrations can be found on the County website.
Middlesex County is home to numerous Fortune 500 companies, three universities, 18 park systems, and world-class healthcare and research facilities making it one of the nation’s most dynamic regions and a leader in technology, transportation, the arts, and food innovation. As one of the most diverse populations in the country, Middlesex County is home to over 832,000 residents living throughout 25 municipalities and employing nearly 40,000 people. Ranked #1 in the state for best schools, the County offers an award-winning vocational school system, a county college, and workforce development creating a unique ecosystem in which opportunities abound. Conveniently located between New York and Philadelphia, Middlesex County is a leading destination for businesses and residents alike to live, work, and play – and has been since the 17th century.