This weekend Trenton is preparing for its second Juneteenth celebration. Here’s What you need to know.

There will be speeches and programming in front of the War Memorial on Friday 5 p.m. “We will have speakers…We will have presentations about our financial literacy initiative that we launched in 2021, and we’ll also have a presentation about the Trenton literacy Trenton Reads initiative in collaboration with the Trenton Literacy movement and Trenton Free Public Library,” said Latarsha Burke, Executive of the Trenton African American Pride Festival.

Last week, at a press conference announcing the celebration, sponsors like Capital Health and Wells Fargo pledged their support and donated to the celebrations.

“That’s very important for us. We have a large retail presence here. We have been very active in this community for many, many years. We support so many different initiatives and Juneteenth is just one of the many things we support in this community,” said Wanda Saez, Senior Vice President of Community Relations and Greater Trenton Board member. “So we are one of the premier sponsors, we’re sponsoring the event at a $15,000 level just like we did last year… We think it’s just a great investment in this community.”

The African American Cultural Collaborative of Mercer County partnered with the NJ Legislative District 15 (Senator Shirley Turner, Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds Jackson, and Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli), and the Outdoor Equity Alliance to plan the Juneteenth Celebration.

This event is scheduled for Friday, June 17 through Saturday, June 18, 2022, in Trenton.

“So the mission of the collaborative is to celebrate the impact of African Americans in the United States and to celebrate the freedom of our people. What more can we ask for? And that’s why we go so hard for these events that celebrate the arts across cultures. We do not exclude based on race or ethnicity or anything like that as long as you are on the same mission as we are, to educate our community about our likes and our differences. We are accomplishing everything we set out to do,” Burke said.

They did this by partnering with various organizations to table the event. Returning this year is the Trenton Literacy Movement. Douglas Palmer, the Trenton Literacy Movement Chairmen, explained how they got involved.

“Oh, last year, and all credit goes to Latarsha Burke and her committee or vision. She reached out to Ed Bullock, the president of the Trenton Literacy Movement, about being involved with their literacy village. Of course, anytime you say literacy, that’s something that we want to be involved in,” said Palmer.

The literacy village will be a place for kids to enjoy free books, do arts and crafts, and much more. “And last year, a lot of other organizations that deal with literacy put up an information table about what we’re doing, how to sign your youngsters up,” Palmer added.

The event will highlight current issues through cultural, collaboration, commerce, unity, and educational displays. Saturday has two different events happening across the city. The first will be at Mercer County Park Commissions Capital City Farm from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be events that cater to the farm, like building homes for bees, planting seeds, and trying different African-inspired recipes and music. There will be live music, vendors, kid’s activities, and tables of various Trenton organizations at Mill Hill Park. That event will run from Noon to 8 p.m.

On September 10, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil D. Murphy signed legislation designating Juneteenth as a State and public holiday.

The observance of Juneteenth is about the journey and achievement of African Americans – from a horrific period of sanctioned enslavement to the pinnacle of human endeavors. It is a story of pride, resilience and determination that will always be of historical and spiritual importance – as it serves us well to understand that together, we can overcome all obstacles in our path.

As we know it, June 19th 1865, was the day word reached the enslaved in Galveston, Texas that their emancipation had been made formal, though it had been so since January, 1, 1863. And with those words, our country changed, this world changed. And, with bold and contentious decisions, we have continued to change – striving always to make it right, to make it better for all.

Again, we have the opportunity to look back at this century-and-a-half journey of progress. We pay homage to those who have gone before us, those that have paved the road to freedom – many with their lives. We stand on their shoulders. We, as a collective, from all walks of life, are a part of this victory. We celebrate freedom.

Through our celebrations we reflect this independence. Through grass roots organizing and community collaboration we enjoy the creativity and dedication that produce celebrations from the dinner table to the backyard barbeque, from the neighborhood block party to the city wide parade, and from the school cafeteria to the corporate conference room. There is no governing body that sanctions or approves Juneteenth celebrations or Juneteenth organizations. We encourage everyone to participate in a local event or start their own tradition. Strengthening the ties that bind us should always be our objective. Unity and peace are our goals. 

As we pay tribute to the journey, we acknowledge the many roles and contributions of the African American spirit to our society. We embrace the past as well as the future that only unity, respect and appreciation can bring. To the countless supporters, organizers and attendees of Juneteenth celebrations hosted all across this nation and beyond, you are writing the history of our country and our world – there can be no greater honor than that. We thank you. —


About Author