Kennett Square to commemorate Juneteenth, June 8 through 27

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The 2024 Kennett Square Juneteenth Planning Committee is proud to announce a multitude of programs throughout June to celebrate Juneteenth. The committee has been hard at work since January, organizing, manifesting, and planning these events that aim to unite the community.

On June 19th, 1865, the last group of enslaved Black Americans were freed by the Union in Galveston, Texas. White enslavers and local government officials in Galveston refused to tell the enslaved Black population the Civil War was over and they were free. Union troops were brought in to end the remaining pockets of resistance by Confederate troops. That event became known today as Juneteenth.

Crystal Crampton, President of the Board of Trustees of Kennett Area Community Service and committee member, said, “The history of the past needs to be told, and every voice needs to be heard. This committee has worked tirelessly together to plan events celebrating Black culture while inviting the community to learn and celebrate together,” She continued, “Matthew 22 verse 39b comes to mind, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self.’”

The Kennett Square Juneteenth Planning Committee was created to give Kennett Square a space to celebrate and to educate others about Juneteenth and how intertwined Black history is with the history of Kennett Square and Chester County.

Kisha Moore, Chief Hospitality Officer of Voices Underground and committee member, said, “Experience this year’s Juneteenth in Kennett Square, PA, as it blossoms into a vibrant celebration of freedom, joy, and the essence of community love, thanks to the extraordinary collaboration of dedicated community partners. We honor our past, rejoice in our present, and forge a future filled with unity and celebration.”

The celebrations will begin on June 8th with a lantern-making workshop presented by Kennett Heritage Center at the Kennett Library featuring walking artist Ken Johnston at 1 pm. The following weekend, June 15, will feature a Fish Fry Lunch Box at New Garden Memorial UAME Church (be sure to call ahead and place your order by June 10th: 302-750-1926). On Sunday, June 16th, the Kennett Underground Railroad Center bus tour will take place at 1 pm.

The Kennett Area Park Authority’s Sounds of Summer Free Concert Series kicks off in Anson B. Nixon Park on Wednesday, June 19th at 6:30 pm, featuring Darnell Miller & The Souldaires. Illuminating Bayard Rustin returns to the Kennett Flash on June 20th, and on Friday, June 21st, Frederick Douglass Jazz Works featuring Ruth Naomi Floyd will take place at Longwood Gardens.

Saturday, June 22nd, will showcase The African Marketplace at The Creamery of Kennett Square from 12-6 pm, which will feature a vibrant array of vendors, from engaging educational galleries, drummers, double dutch, and face painters to showcasing art, crafts, clothing, delicious food, and music. Kennett Heritage Center will host Civil War artifacts & Ephemera at the Kennett Library, including the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and a talk by Bryan Cheeseboro from 11 am-1 pm.

On Sunday, June 23rd, Lincoln University will host the Freedom Table Culinary Feast, celebrating the bounties of freedom and the hope of racial healing through storytelling. Last but certainly not least, on Thursday, June 27th, Kennett Underground Railroad Center will host author PJ Piccirillo at the Kennett Library at 6 pm.

Natalia Santiago Vazquez, Director of Community Outreach & Programming for Square Roots Collective and committee member, said, “Together, we’ll embark on a journey of remembrance, empowerment, and community as we come together to commemorate our shared history and embrace our collective future. Get ready for unforgettable celebrations filled with joy, unity, and the vibrant spirit of our community.”

The committee worked together to make all events educational, impactful, and especially authentic. While Juneteenth was officially made an American Federal holiday in 2021, it has been celebrated long before the 21st century.

Carol Black, president of MLKCommUNITY’s board of directors and committee member, said, “I am delighted to witness the celebration of Juneteenth in Kennett Square today. It’s important to note that the origins of Juneteenth Solidarity Day trace back to 1968, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned and organized it as part of the Poor People’s Campaign, aiming to spotlight the intertwined issues of racial and economic injustice.”

Please visit the Cultural Alliance of Chester County website for a complete list of Juneteenth events: https://www.culturechesco.org/juneteenth-kennett-square.

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