Bloomfield to celebrate Juneteenth with two-day festival

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — The recent proclamation of the Juneteenth holiday by the township of Bloomfield and state of New Jersey will be celebrated by the township, which will host its first Juneteenth festival. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the official end of slavery in the United States.

“As we work to heal the injustices of the past, it is critical that we remember the history and continue to pass it on to future generations,” Mayor Michael Venezia said. “This celebration will be a fantastic opportunity to hear from African American leaders in our community and learn about the progress that is needed to be made going forward.”

The two-day family friendly celebration will begin on Friday, June 18, at 6 p.m. at Bloomfield High School with a conversation hosted by Bloomfield Civil Rights Commissioner and Board of Education member Kasey Dudley. Three prominent black New Jerseyans will discuss the Juneteenth holiday as well as its significance to the black community and American history. 

“Bloomfield is a diverse community with a significant and rich African American population,” Councilwoman Sarah Cruz said. “I am proud of the work that we have done to bring our township together for this incredible event commemorating the Juneteenth holiday and I look forward to continuing to educate and inform residents about the significance of June 19.” 

June 19, 1865, marks the moment when the last of America’s enslaved population learned of their freedom — two and a half years after they were legally emancipated. 

On Saturday, June 19, festivities will begin at 10 a.m. at Bloomfield High School with an opening ceremony that includes the reading of the Juneteenth proclamation and comments from town officials, community leaders and students. 

“On Juneteenth, we remember those that came before us and most importantly June 19 is a day to celebrate freedom and the ongoing journey to fulfill America’s promise,” Councilwoman Wartyna Davis said. “Thank you to all of the groups and community leaders that helped us to put this important event together.” 

Following the ceremony, the Essex-Union marching band, the official band of Bloomfield College, will lead a solidarity walk to Bloomfield College. At noon, founders of the GiveBack Hair Show will host a townwide festival at Bloomfield Center, between Bloomfield Avenue and Lackawanna Place, that will include an array of local vendors, food, music, art and more.

“We have worked to honor and celebrate the resilience of African Americans, their contributions to American history, and our collective and continued pursuit of freedom,” said Dudley, the visionary of the Bloomfield Juneteenth Celebration and engine behind this commemoration. 

The family-friendly festival will follow New Jersey COVID-19 guidelines.