Juneteenth is just around the corner, but here in the Capital City, we’ll celebrate all month long.

On Wednesday, May 31st, elected officials, representatives, and advocates gathered at the historic William Trent House Museum to kick off this year’s Juneteenth celebrations. Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19th, marks the effective end of slavery in the United States in 1865. Today, the day represents freedom, progress, and emancipation in the African American community. So naturally, such an occasion calls for celebration, and Mercer County’s African American Cultural Collaborative (TAACC) has stepped up. At the kickoff, TAACC representatives Helen Jones Walker and Latarsha Burke, Mayor Reed Gusciora, the 15th Legislative District representatives, county officials, and more shared about the exciting three weekends of programming lined up for this year’s festivities.

Left to Right: Senator Shirley Turner, Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli

In her remarks, Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson noted, “With Juneteenth, as we think about our history and ancestors, and the delay in announcing that freedom was available to us for two and a half years. Now I know, and you know that the sun rises and sets every day, to think about the suffrage people went through for two and a half additional years of suffrage to know that we are free.” She noted, “We’re also in this moment of recognizing systematic racism, or suppression that happens to people of color throughout the state. So on this day, we’re going to reflect. Still, we’re also going to celebrate, celebrate, celebrate our people to let them lead and to empower us to continue to inspire the next generation and the generation after that.”

Senator Shirley Turner stated, “I’m delighted to see so many people involved, youngest to oldest. Whether you are a history buff or love entertainment or farming, we’ve got that, and we also have our children, what’s most important because we need to make sure that our young people understand and appreciate history. We’ve come a long way and know that after suffering through slavery, we can overcome anything.”

Mayor of Trenton Reed Gusciora

The African American Cultural Collaborative of Mercer County (AACCofMC), in partnership with the NJ Legislative District 15 (Senator Shirley Turner, Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, and Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli) and Outdoor Equity Alliance are planning a county-wide Juneteenth Celebration. For the third consecutive year, the celebration has expanded its outreach to include three-weekend activities, with a finale celebrated at Mercer County Park. The events will begin on June 3, 2023, and culminate on June 17, 2023. The Presenting Sponsors are Wells Fargo and Capital Health. 

A youth-inspired African American History Bowl is scheduled for June 3, 2023, at the New Jersey State Museum. An African Ancestry Experience is planned for June 11, 2023, at William Trent House Museum. On June 10th, Capital City Farms will spearhead an agricultural-focused celebration at their Trenton location on North Clinton Avenue. An invite-only Kick-Off will take place on Friday. June 16, 2023. Saturday, June 17, 2023, will include the final celebration at Mercer County Park Festival Grounds featuring local and world-renowned entertainers. The headliners will be American saxophonist Everette Harp and jazz pianist Alex Bugnon. Commitments from The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), Trenton Board of Education, the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Pi Chapter, and Trenton’s Own Comedic legend Sommore have evolved into a plethora of family-centered activities that will be highlighted during this time of celebration. 

Latarsha Burke and Helen Jones Walker of TAACC

The Collaborative aims to Educate, Empower, and Unite Africans in the diaspora through cultural arts, health and wellness, entertainment, and sports. This event aims to highlight a few poignant and current issues through displays of culture, collaboration, commerce, unity, and education. The City of Trenton, Mercer County Party Commission, and many other partners have been working diligently to ensure an exciting and safe experience. As a result of collaboration with the Let’s Ride Foundation and the Samuel McCoy Scholarship Fund, a Juneteenth Freedom Day Bike Ride will also start at Mercer County Park and travel throughout West Windsor Township with options for novice to advanced riders to explore the neighboring communities. Tennille McCoy, Chair and Founder of the McCoy Family Foundation, noted the immense benefits of riding a bike, including core strength, heart health, low-impact exercise, and more, so be sure to get out there and ride for a great cause!

Each year, the celebrations get bigger and better, but they would not be possible without the generous support of sponsors and volunteers. If you wish to become a volunteer and help bring this incredible calendar of events to life, more information can be found here: Volunteer – TAACC.

A celebration of freedom, unity, and progress is just around the corner, so mark your calendars today!

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