Juneteenth Fests Celebrate Black Freedom

From the Hill to Dixwell, New Haveners celebrated Juneteenth with dance, soul food, and investments in Black businesses.

Two Juneteenth events were celebrated less than two miles away from one another at Sandra’s Next Generation restaurant in the Hill and Connecticut Violence Intervention Program’s space at 230 Ashmun St. 

Each gathering hosted dozens of New Haveners to celebrate the holiday, which marks the proclamation of the end of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865. It commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans through the power of unity and circulating black dollars. The holiday has grown in popularity, especially since the Black Lives matters police accountability protests of the past year. This week it became a federal holiday.

“Freedom Brunch”

Owners of Congress Avenue’s Sandra’s Next Generation, Miguel and Sandra Pittman, cleared the restaurants parking lot to host their first annual Juneteenth festival. The all-day event began as a brunch, then an afternoon cookout, and finally an after-hours party.

New Haveners were seated on one side for a plate of chicken and waffles, cajun chicken devil eggs, or fish and grits, while 11 Black vendors participated and sold their art, clothing, jewelry, and healthy snacks on the other side of the lot.

The Pittmans’ four kids organized the event. They invited operators Black-owned businesses from New York, Georgia, and Alabamas to joined the gathering.

While artist Tracey Massey sold her paintings, custom clothing, and handmade jewelry at the Hill festival, she thought about her mother, who raised her around entrepreneurship by selling candy apples and popcorn.

“We’re building another Wall Street,” she said.

Massey lives in the Hill and has been eating at Sandra’s for the past 25 years.

After brunch, visitors stopped at vendor tables and tasted samples of seamoss and rubbed a thick and creamy shea butter Ghanian formula on their hands.

“This is about freedom and working towards a better future,” said Sandra.

Dance Party For Empowerment

The Amistad Committee and Connecticut 29th Colored Regiment C.V. Infantry hosted its fourth annual Juneteenth festival at the Connecticut Violence Intervention Program’s outdoor space on Ashmun Street in Dixwell.

A dance party erupted at the event led by youth who later invited in young children and seniors to join.

Solar Power dancers Tyler Jackson, Dashawn Davis, and Gabriel Francis (among those pictured at the top of this story) performed for the crowd after an impromptu dance circle with New Haven natives and sisters Shannon Mone’t, Sharon, and Crystal Dickey.

The group danced in sync to songs like “Poison” by Bell Biv DeVoe and “It Takes Two” by Rob Base. DJ EZ Rock played by the Rahsaan Langley Band.

Organizers Kai Perry, Meredith Benson, and Kelly Mero invited local vendors to the event. Dozens of community organizations also tabled at the event. offering program sign-ups, resources, and local services . New Haven Reads Site Director Audra Clark distributed free books to youth and parents Saturday. Several food trucks lined the street to provide free meals.

Fire Chief John Alston Jr. invited Ancient African Formula owner Aminata Dukuray from New Jersey to event to sell her imported art, clothing, jewelry, and skin care products made by her family in Gambia. The proceeds made from at the event will be donated to build a school for youth in Dukuray’s home of Gambia.

Mauro-Sheridan Interdistrict Magnet School support staff member Sean Hardy said he hopes celebrations continue citywide surrounding Black success and hope. He suggested future celebrations include a focus on teaching youth life skills like communication with positive and consistent programming.

“This is like a push that we can make it,” Hardy said. “But we don’t just need that once a year. We need it more often.”

Local artist Jesse Wolf displayed his most recent pieces after a self-care hiatus and joined with artist friends Saisha Mac and Patrick Kelly in a live paint session at Saturday’s event for participants to watch, join, or suggest ideas for the pieces.

Griffin Hospital also offered free vaccines to New Haveners during the event.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 20, 2021  4:17am

This I why I love to read history.The part they do not tell you about Juneteenth.

General Granger’s actual order, which he read to people of Galveston on June 19, 1865 – –  after Granger’s troops had battled rebels in Louisiana, and traveled by ship to Galveston – really ought to be a part of this:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”A part of this not emphasized nearly enough is his directive that the relation between former slaves and former “masters” was to become one “between employer and hired labor”  : freed slaves were to be paid for their work..
So you see .The masters became employers and The freed slaves freed slaves.

Freedom Ride: How Not to Celebrate Juneteenth

Margaret Kimberley, BAR senior columnist

Juneteenth has become the latest iteration of liberal capture of Black politics, opportunistic virtue signaling, and the intentional misrepresentation of America’s history.
“An opportunity to discuss resistance against oppression has been turned into a substance-free feel good day.”


posted by: Heather C. on June 20, 2021  1:07pm

We have the Fourth Of July coming up where we celebrate our country’s independence from the British rule. I’m sure many of the myths surrounding that holiday aren’t all totally based in facts, the same as Thanksgiving is mired in myths and ignores some truths.
Juneteenth may have myths associated with it, but why shouldn’t we have a holiday to celebrate the ending of legally sanctioned slavery in the USA, even if it it isn’t entirely based in facts? Many of our holidays are not 100% based in facts, and are more about celebrating ideals we aspire to. Having Juneteenth declared a federally recognized holiday means it will be mentioned in schools,  and in the media, which brings awareness of a dark period in our country’s history and maybe inspires someone to find out more.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 20, 2021  5:15pm

posted by: Heather C. on June 20, 2021 1:07pm

Juneteenth may have myths associated with it, but why shouldn’t we have a holiday to celebrate the ending of legally sanctioned slavery in the USA,

As W.E.B. Du Bois wrote, the “slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery.”In the book by Douglas Blackmon, author of “Slavery by Another Name,” He wrote.Designed to reverse black advances, Redemption was an organized effort by white merchants, planters, businessmen and politicians that followed Reconstruction. “Redeemers” employed vicious racial violence and state legislation as tools to prevent black citizenship and equality promised under the 14th and 15th amendments.So By the early 1900s, nearly every southern state had barred black citizens not only from voting but also from serving in public office, on juries and in the administration of the justice system.The South’s new racial caste system was not merely political and social. It was thoroughly economic. Slavery had made the South’s agriculture-based economy the most powerful force in the global cotton market, but the Civil War devastated this economy.Ironically, white leaders found a solution in the 13th Amendment, which ended slavery in the United States in 1865. By exploiting the provision allowing “slavery” and “involuntary servitude” to continue as “a punishment for crime,” they took advantage of a penal system predating the Civil War and used even during Reconstruction.With the help of profiteering industrialists they found yet a new way to build wealth on the bound labor of black Americans: the convict lease system.Here’s how it worked. Black men – and sometimes women and children – were arrested and convicted for crimes enumerated in the Black Codes, state laws criminalizing petty offenses and aimed at keeping freed people tied to their former owners’ plantations and farms. The most sinister crime was vagrancy – the “crime” of being unemployed


posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 20, 2021  5:32pm


which brought a large fine that few blacks could afford to pay.Black convicts were leased to private companies, typically industries profiteering from the region’s untapped natural resources. As many as 200,000 black Americans were forced into back-breaking labor in coal mines, turpentine factories and lumber camps. They lived in squalid conditions, chained, starved, beaten, flogged and sexually Violated. They died by the thousands from injury, disease and torture.For both the state and private corporations, the opportunities for profit were enormous. For the state, convict lease generated revenue and provided a powerful tool to subjugate African-Americans and intimidate them into behaving in accordance with the new social order. It also greatly reduced state expenses in housing and caring for convicts. For the corporations, convict lease provided droves of cheap, disposable laborers who could be worked to the extremes of human cruelty.Every southern state leased convicts, and at least nine-tenths of all leased convicts were black. In reports of the period, the terms “convicts” and “negroes” are used interchangeably.

Also what happen to Special Field Orders No. 15, a wartime order proclaimed by Union General William Tecumseh Sherman on January 16, 1865, during the American Civil War, to allot land to freed families, in plots of land no larger than 40 acres and a mule?In fact.40 Acres and a Mule Would Be at Least $6.4 Trillion Today.

Having Juneteenth declared a federally recognized holiday means it will be mentioned in schools,  and in the media, which brings awareness of a dark period in our country’s history and maybe inspires someone to find out more.

The major of black folks would have Reparations then Having Juneteenth declared federally recognized holiday.