Ryan Hendricks

Celebrating Juneteenth In Downtown Waterbury

Hundreds or Waterbury residents marched through the streets of downtown to celebrate Juneteenth, a holiday to celebrate freedom from slavery for Black Americans.


Story and Photographs

By John Murray


   Juneteenth was celebrated with a joyful expression of Black culture by more than 300 marchers who filled downtown Waterbury with songs, poetry, dance, and with demands for equality and justice.


   The Juneteenth Unity Rally was organized by the Waterbury Strong Community Collective whose founders are Demetre Coles, Tyler McElrath, Dwayne Pittman, Jessica Ervin and Jalia West. They are young, they are proud, and they organized a positive expression of Black culture.

Poetic Justice

Ryan Hendricks at the May 31st protest in Waterbury, Connecticut. Photograph by Terrence Bell


Story By John Murray


   Ryan Hendricks lives in the Walnut area in the North End of Waterbury. A vacant lot separates the Hendricks from the back of a bodega, where drug sales are brisk, and sellers have an easy escape route from police.


   It’s a tough neighborhood with boarded up homes, and opportunity and hope hard to come by. The Hendricks have a fence around their yard and they clean and maintain vacant lots on either side of their property. In the summer the Hendricks organize a block party on Walnut Avenue and they dig into their own pockets to feed 500 people BBQ jerk chicken, and they provide music, water slides and a bouncy house to the neighborhood children.