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Published on June 20, 2024
Boston Commemorates Juneteenth with Citywide Celebrations and Reflections on FreedomSource: Unsplash/ Oladimeji Odunsi

Boston marked the anniversary of the end of slavery with Juneteenth celebrations across the city, encompassing events from flag-raising ceremonies to parades in the sweltering heat. Juneteenth, which became a federal holiday just three years ago, saw hundreds take the opportunity to reflect on the nation's past and look ahead to its future, according to NBC Boston.

One notable event took place in Roxbury, where participants marched from the Dillaway-Thomas House to the Museum of the National Center for Afro-American Artists. Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell, and San Francisco’s poet laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin spoke at the flag-raising ceremony, an occasion that also featured members of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment Company A, all highlighting the historical significance of Juneteenth, as reported by The Boston Globe. The parade demonstrated not only a celebration of history, but also a communal dedication to remembering and honoring the hard-fought freedoms of African Americans.

The Juneteenth flag, a symbol rich with meaning, was raised at the State House in a ceremony where Governor Maura Healey spoke of "recommitment to fight for fundamental freedoms, equal treatment under the law," NBC Boston reported. People also availed themselves of free entry at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, immersing in exhibitions crafted to both celebrate Black culture and provoke thoughts on community progress and aspirations.

The importance of education underpinned the day's festivities, with Boston artist Leshonda Zene telling NBC Boston that while "the history of Juneteenth isn't a pretty one" it is also the "beautiful start of something." Similarly, Euronna Taylor, a member of the Boston Juneteenth Committee, shared with The Boston Globe how she fell in love with the event upon learning its history and witnessing the broad spectrum of people embracing and sharing it.

The celebration's spirit was palpable throughout the city. Paraders, adorned in colors reflective of the African American flag, used Roxbury's streets as their stage, while onlookers supported from their homes, and vendors offered cultural artifacts and food outside the Afro-American Artists museum. The event remained safe, with no ambulance calls reported, thanks to proactive measures such as misting tents and readily available water helping to marchers manage the heat, according to Roger Hamlet, deputy superintendent at Boston Emergency Medical Services who spoke with The Boston Globe.