Palmyra, Riverton and Cinnaminson will team for an early Juneteenth celebration on June 9 at Chief Payton I. Flournoy Senior Memorial Park.
Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in the U.S. The holiday was first celebrated in Texas, where troops arrived on June 19, 1865 and told slaves there they were free more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Congress declared Juneteenth, or June 19, a federal holiday.
Juneteenth committee member Jasmine Hardy said she hopes attendees at the Palmyra celebration will be inspired to attend other related events.
“We want folks to be able to come out and learn something and be able to celebrate however they can,” she said. “But with respect to the holiday and what it means to Black Americans.”
Fellow committee member Michelle Ray said she hopes the event will bring the community together amid continued bias against people of color across the country.
“It’s a celebration,” she explained, “but it’s also an opportunity for awareness and an opportunity for education.”
Among other community organizations, the Southern Burlington County NAACP chapter will be on hand at the June 9 event to help with voter registration, a Boy Scout troop will make a quilt and ask children to make a patch noting what freedom means to them, and students from Palmyra High School will volunteer.
The logo for the event was designed by a Palmyra High School student.
The Juneteenth committee is composed of about 10 people who say they are concentrating on representing Black vendors who will have soaps, candles, clothing and more on hand. Different cuisines will be spotlighted with soul, Caribbean and vegan food options. Entertainment will include an African storyteller; a drill team; and B-Smooth, a jazz band from Philadelphia with an R&B twist.
Committee member Erica Campbell said townships beyond the three involved in the celebration have supported the event.
“We have a community that’s really working hard behind this project,” she noted. “We as African American people, we really want to make sure that everybody knows that this is a community event supporting what happened on that day.”
Ray said she’ll consider the event a success if attendees walk away more educated on the meaning of the holiday. She also shared the committee’s desire to ensure small business vendors are supported.
“It takes a community to do this kind of work,” Campbell said.
Juneteenth celebration hours are 5 to 9 p.m. The Flournoy park is on the corner of Broad Street and Cinnaminson Avenue in Palmyra. Rain date is Friday, June 10.
The Juneteenth committee always seeks volunteers; anyone interested can contact email@example.com.