MELROSE — Salem State University Professor, Jamie Wilson and Medford Poet Laureate, Terry Carter are among the North Shore residents headlining the City of Melrose’s 3rd Annual Juneteenth Flag-Raising Ceremony on Friday, June 16, at 6:30 p.m. at the Essex St. entrance to City Hall. The ceremony is made possible through a partnership between the Office of Melrose Mayor Paul Brodeur and the North Shore Juneteenth Association (NSJA) to celebrate Juneteenth, Emancipation Day, and increase public engagement and awareness of the significance of the holiday. The event is free and open to the public.
Wilson, of Malden, is a Professor of History at Salem State University where he teaches courses in United States and African American History. He is also the author of several books including the upcoming biography of Martin Luther King, Jr., titled Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Life in American History. He is an expert in 20th-century American history; African American history; African diaspora history; the Black Panther Party of Connecticut; the Civil rights movement; and Health politics in Harlem, New York.
In addition to Professor Wilson’s keynote remarks and a live poetry performance by Poet Laureate Carter, of Medford, the Juneteenth celebration will feature a reflection by Lynn resident and activist Reverend Andre Bennette; a performance of the Black National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” by Tanya Crowell and remarks by City Council President Jen Grigoraitis, Mayor Paul Brodeur and State Representative Kate Lipper-Garabedian.
Melrose resident Michael Phillips, age 12, will raise the City’s Juneteenth Flag with his father, Joe Phillips, a member of the Melrose Human Rights Commission and Chair of Mayor Brodeur’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Task Force.
“We are truly honored to celebrate Juneteenth alongside our residents and elected officials, the North Shore Juneteenth Association and the many talented and passionate North Shore residents who share our commitment to raising awareness of this American holiday,” said Mayor Paul Brodeur. “Every year, we are fortunate to witness the raising of the Juneteenth flag as the Black National Anthem is sung. This year, we are particularly lucky and excited to have a young Melrose resident, Michael Phillips, raise the flag alongside his father. We look forward to building upon the traditions of the past and making progress into the future as we continue to engage with this crucial piece of our nation’s history.”
“North Shore Juneteenth Association is proud to continue raising awareness about the Juneteenth holiday by collaborating with the City of Melrose,” said Nicole McClain, Founder and President of the North Shore Juneteenth Association. “Collaborations like these allow our mission to reach as many residents as possible with the goal of opening hearts and minds to the Black American experience.
“In my first year as a State Representative, I was incredibly proud to vote to make Juneteenth an official state holiday,” said Representative Kate Lipper-Garabedian. “And I’m also proud to represent a City that since then has spearheaded such a vibrant annual celebration. Juneteenth, a day that for so long lacked formal recognition, is more than a symbol; it creates a space for us to contemplate how our nation can live up to the values on which we were built. It is an opportunity to commit to further action in pursuit of a more free and just society.”
Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, represents the end of slavery in the United States. Despite Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation taking effect on January 1, 1863, hundreds of thousands of Black people continued to be enslaved in the United States. It was not until Union soldiers delivered the news of the abolition of slavery in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, that the last group of enslaved Black people in the United States were freed. The following year, on June 19, 1866, the first official Juneteenth celebrations took place in Texas.
The City of Melrose will close its municipal buildings in observance of Juneteenth on Monday, June 19. The Melrose Police and Fire Stations will remain open.