(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- From June 15-19, 2022, the City of New Brunswick, NJ will celebrate the 157th Anniversary of Juneteenth—a day that commemorates the end of slavery throughout the United States. The Juneteenth Planning Coalition brings together a wide variety of community groups for an exciting series of events to make this year's Juneteenth celebration one of the most outstanding and impactful activities of 2022. Juneteenth achieved federal recognition on the 17th of June 2021, when President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, establishing the 19th of June as a federal holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.
While its roots are in Texas, Juneteenth has become a day to celebrate freedom all over the United States. Public Juneteenth celebrations have been held in the City of New Brunswick since 2014 with the wonderful annual community parade and festival hosted by the Vulcan Pioneers (the Black Firefighters of New Brunswick) and their community partners. The New Brunswick Area NAACP, the Rutgers African-American Alumni Alliance, Zakee Bowser Enrichment Foundation, and the New Brunswick Cultural Center, New Brunswick Performing Arts Center (NBPAC), The Arts Institute of Middlesex County, Crossroads Theatre Company, and the New Brunswick Educational Association and State Theatre New Jersey) have been proud to assist in building on this tradition. This year also sees expanded activities in the week preceding the Juneteenth weekend, such as a closing reception for the Angela David exhibition at the Rutgers Zimmerli Art Museum and a continuation of the City of New Brunswick (via the New Brunswick Cultural Center, New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, the Arts Institute of Middlesex County, and State Theatre New Jersey alongside a wide variety of community groups) celebrating the holiday with mural painting, a block party, and the raising of the Juneteenth flag on Friday, June 18th. All these activities now create: "New Brunswick 2022 Juneteenth Commemoration & Celebration Week."
Wednesday, June 15th - Celebrating Freedom: Closing Reception for Angela Davis Exhibit at Zimmerli Art Museum, 71 Hamilton St., New Brunswick, NJ. The Rutgers Zimmerli Museum invites you to bid farewell to the acclaimed exhibition Angela Davis – Seize the Time before it heads to its next stop in Oakland. Enjoy music by the Charles Tyler Trio and refreshments from Delta's, and take in the exhibition one more time with highlights tours led by co-curators Donna Gustafson and Gerry Beegan at 4:15pm and 5:15pm.
Friday, June 17th - New Brunswick Recognizes Juneteenth: Mural, Block Party, and Raising of the Juneteenth Flag in Front of the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center (NBPAC), 11 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ. Start the Juneteenth holiday weekend with the mayor of New Brunswick and various stakeholders from the City of New Brunswick and Middlesex County, cultural institutions, and community groups on June 17th with the unveiling of a community street-chalk mural followed by a block party and Juneteenth Flag raising.
This is the second year that New Jersey officially recognizes Juneteenth as an official state/federal holiday. The New Brunswick Area NAACP, Rutgers African-American Alumni Alliance, Arts Institute of Middlesex County, Crossroads Theatre Company, New Brunswick Cultural Center, Inc., New Brunswick Performing Arts Center (NBPAC), and State Theatre New Jersey are honored to partner to commemorate this historic event and spread the awareness of the history behind Juneteenth with as many residents as possible, from across the County to across the State of New Jersey, nationally and internationally.
The day begins Friday morning at 9:00am when interested community members are invited to come out and participate in the creation of the street-chalk mural under the direction of artist Louis – Miguel “Louie Blaka” Caraballo at the intersection of George Street, Liberty Street, and Livingston Avenue. The installation is sponsored by the Arts Institute of Middlesex County, New Brunswick Performing Arts Center (NBPAC), and New Brunswick Cultural Center. At 3:00pm the Juneteenth block party will open with a libation followed by dancing, singing, and other performances along with greetings from community stakeholders. The program will culminate in the raising of the Juneteenth flag and a must-see performance by the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble.
Saturday, June 18th - 2022 Juneteenth Community Parade and Festival. The parade meets at the Intersection of George St. & Remsen Avenue, New Brunswick. The festival takes place at Recreation Park, 7 Pine St., New Brunswick, NJ. Saturday will see the long-running annual Juneteenth Community Parade and Festival which is geared to create a welcoming platform for community members of all ages to “celebrate freedom,” the central theme of Juneteenth! Scheduled to begin midday on Saturday the 18th of June 2022, the annual Juneteenth Festival will be preceded by early morning family activities hosted by Crossroads Theatre Company in front of the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center from 10:00am–11:00am. From the Crossroads event, participants can walk down George Street to join up with Juneteenth Parade participants at the intersection of George Street and Remsen Avenue.
The parade will include community clubs, various non-profit organizations, dancers, stilt walkers, and many others marching from George Street and Remsen Avenue then onto Sanford Street, then to Pine Street, ending at Recreation Park (the edge of the Douglass Campus at 7 Pine Street). The festival occurs at the park after the end of the parade and will feature games, face painting, raffles, various vendors, and giant inflatables.
There will also be a youth oratorical competition that will highlight Black excellence, history, and the achievements of African-American luminaries.
Crossroads Theatre Company Celebrates Black Life and Culture for Juneteenth Week 2022 at New Brunswick Performing Arts Center (NBPAC). Throughout the Juneteenth 2022 Week, Crossroads Theatre Company will be hosting shows for all ages and economic abilities! Watch performances of Sugarbelly and Freedom Rider or join them outdoors for the FREE FAMILY SATURDAYS Juneteenth celebration on June 18 at 10:00am with 2x Grammy Nominated SAULPAUL in a fun-filled music and kid-friendly activities event.
Crossroads Festival Theatre will also be partnering with community organizations to present nightly readings of new work, to inspire people and give voice to their artistry. Join them as they present and promote the work of amazing local artists.
Sugarbelly features acclaimed blues musician and Grammy nominee Guy Davis.
Freedom Riders tells the dramatic story of young civil rights activists who boarded interstate buses southbound from Washington, DC to challenge the non-enforcement of the US Supreme Court rule that segregated public buses was unconstitutional.
What is Juneteenth? 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.
The celebration of freedom spread across the former Confederacy and as African-Americans moved north, they carried this celebration of liberation with them. Isabel Wilkerson in her prize-winning account of the Great Migration, “The Warmth of Other Suns,” notes how the celebration spread with these Black migrants.