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‘Love, peace and culture’

Township marks Juneteenth at Perkins Center celebration

Moorestown’s fifth annual Juneteenth celebration will be held at Perkins Center for the Arts on Saturday, June 15, from 2 to 5 p.m.

The free event – co-sponsored by Perkins, Curate Noir and MooreUnity – is expected to include music, vendors, dance, art and food trucks.

“I say it’s to celebrate culture and just people in general, and I think it’s a great day for all of us to come together,” said Jasmine Cartwright, co-founder of the event. “But of course, the research and the history (of Juneteenth) is important as well.

“ … Juneteenth feels very open, just the culture,” she added, “I wouldn’t even know how else to describe it other than just love, peace and culture, celebrating us.”

The Juneteenth celebration was started by Cartwright and Ashlynn Conley, who got the idea after joining a 2020 protest in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer. The first Juneteenth was held on Perkins’ lawn and featured live music, spoken word and more, and that jump started another township tradition.

‘Juneteenth, it’s really just about love, community coming together, surrounding yourself with people that are just understanding both the cause and (who) also just have a side of creativity and even if you don’t, it’s always fun to enjoy,” Cartwright said.

“I’m so happy that Perkins was super loving and wanted to continue it after I went back to college.”

“What I’m happy about is seeing a lot of repeat vendors that we had from last year and years prior, so I think that’s a good sign that these vendors really benefit and enjoy being a part of this event,” noted Nika Corbett, owner of Curate Noir.

“I think it gets us out and meeting neighbors and socializing with people from across town who we might not otherwise have met, in just a really relaxed format,” observed Karen Reiner, co-founder and president of MooreUnity.

“It’s going to be just a really fun festival and party.”

Nearly two years after President Abraham Lincoln emancipated enslaved Africans in America, Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, on June 19 of 1865 with news of freedom, according to the website for the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

More than 250,000 African Americans embraced freedom by executive decree in what became known as Juneteenth or Freedom Day. Today, the holiday commemorates Black freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week and – in some areas – a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings, according to www.juneteenth.com.

Jonathan Leath, co-pastor at Converge Church in Moorestown, will speak at the event to share the deeper meaning of Juneteenth to attendees.

“ … Juneteenth is a spiritual celebration,” he stressed, “a belief that God cares for those who are suffering, who are struggling, and he cares for all of us. I think that’s a good point to emphasize because it’s not just music, not just celebration, not just fun – but a lot of African American churches celebrate Juneteenth because it was God that got us through, and we say it’s an American holiday or celebration because we don’t look back at the past and blame.”

“Going back (and) trying to be angry with the past is not going to help us in the future,” Leath added. “We’ve got to learn that yes, the past is bad. Yes, there’s some things that have happened, and if there’s some injustice that needs to be righted, I think that needs to happen, but this is a celebration of America and with all of our good and bad …

“We have to acknowledge that we have to build from where we are, so that’s what our celebration is going to be.”

For more information on the event, search Juneteenth in Moorestown on Facebook.

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