Amherst Schedules Juneteenth Community Celebration

Photo: amherstma.gov

Source: amherstma.gov

On Saturday, June 19th 2021, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts will celebrate Juneteenth for the first time as an official state holiday. The Town of Amherst, in partnership with The Civil War Tablet Committee and The Mill District, will celebrate Juneteenth with a daylong event spread over four locations. Uplifting African American culture, traditions, and community heroes near and far, including Amherst residents Christopher, John, Henry, James, and Charles Thompson, who served in the 54th Regiment of the Massachusetts 5th Cavalry among the Soldiers in Texas for the liberation. They are laid to rest in the West Cemetery located in Amherst Center.

June 19th or Juneteenth celebrates the day Major General Gordan Granger led U.S. troops into Galveston in 1865 to take over Texas, one of the final holdout states to admit defeat during the Civil War, enforce the Emancipation Proclamation and formally marked the day that all slaves in the United States were freed. 

Juneteenth is a second Independence Day, a jubilee for African Americans, welcoming all who believe in freedom for all through gathering, art, history, music, food, education, and spiritual acknowledgment.   

In 1893 the regional chapter of the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic Veterans Association) commissioned tablets to recognize soldiers from the Amherst region who served in the Union forces, including African Americans from the 54th Regiment and 5th Cavalry. Amherst resident Dudley Bridges Sr. spent the last years of his life advocating and fundraising to honor these handcrafted memorials with prominent and befitting placement within the community. We are pleased to announce that these handcrafted memorials, which have been hidden from public view for decades, will make a long awaited debut in an exhibit as part of the day’s celebration.

Distinguished guest speakers and presenters, include William Harris, President and CEO of Space Center Houston, nephew of Dudley Bridges Sr., grandson of both Christopher Thompson and Gilbert “Gill” Roberts of Amherst, as Master of Ceremony, and grateful for the outpouring of community support that will enable this event to empower our youth, inspire our peers, and serve as record for future generations.

Juneteenth Amherst Event 2021 Snapshot: Saturday, June 19th 

10:00 a.m. Tribute to our Soldiers at the West Cemetery in Amherst Center

11:00 a.m. Commemoration and Civil War Tablet Exhibit at the Bangs Center Courtyard (70 Boltwood Walk)

1:00 p.m. Community Jubilee  on the Amherst Town Common with food and entertainment 

6:00 p.m. Sunset Reception at The Mill District in North Amherst featuring an artist collective and fashion show

All locations for the Juneteenth event will follow any relevant COVID-19 protocols and guidance as provided by the State of Massachusetts

For more information on Juneteenth,  look here, here and here.

For more information on the Amherst celelbration contact Jennifer Moyston at (413) 259-3002 or via email at moystonj@amherstma.gov

All are welcome to this event and we look forward to celebrating with you on Juneteenth 2021

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