The Waterbury JUNETEENTH Celebration Steering Committee, in partnership with Neighbor Housing Services of Waterbury’s Community Engagement Division, will sponsor several awareness events in 2018 to encourage the observance of JUNETEENTH 2019 with recognition ceremonies and community awareness programs throughout the city. The first event, scheduled for February 13th at 6:30 p.m., will feature a privilege walk, complete with breakout sessions. A privilege walk is an educational activity which shows how groups of people benefit or are marginalized within our society. This event will take place at Naugatuck Valley Community College, Atrium.

   Juneteenth commemorates the day when Americans of African descent learned of their freedom, in Galveston, Texas, following the end of the Civil War. It took over two and a half years for the news of freedom to reach enslaved people in Texas. It was June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger read General Order #3, announced that “all slaves are free” by Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln. President Lincoln signed the Proclamation on September 22, 1862, to take effect on January 1, 1863.

   Today, Juneteenth is celebrated throughout the country in many communities – all with the mission of promoting and cultivating knowledge and appreciation of African-American history and culture. It is a time to celebrate African-American freedom, achievement, and progress. Juneteenth serves as a historical milestone reminding all Americans of a dark chapter in our history and asks all of us to reflect on the enduring vestiges of slavery and discrimination, yet, it also represents the triumph of the human spirit and honors the strength, dignity, and will of our ancestors.

   As we celebrate, this is an opportunity to recommit ourselves to completing the unfinished work of guaranteeing freedom, justice and equity for all – for the struggle continues.

   The Steering Committee consists of Akia Callum, Erika Cooper, Chemay Morales-James, Alderman Vernon Matthews, Sean Mosley, Alicia Pittman, Kathy Taylor, and Pastor Rodney Wade.