WHRC COMMISSIONER Nicole Jacob and her children Max and Añia speak about the history of Juneteenth.

WAKEFIELD — Wakefield’s second annual Juneteenth commemoration on June 15 was a moving and powerful event. Co-sponsored by the North Shore Juneteenth Association and the Wakefield Human Rights Commission, this gathering brought together people from across town to learn about the history of emancipation and of this unique holiday, and to connect in our ongoing path towards liberation. After welcoming remarks from Library Trustee Paul Gordon and Town Council Chair Mehreen Butt, Wakefield’s Nicole Jacob spoke, along with her son Max and daughter Añia, about the history of June 19 1865, the day that emancipation was enforced by the Union army in the farthest reaches of the United States, the island of Galveston, Texas. This date memorializes the official freeing of the last enslaved African Americans in our country, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. The Jacobs also shared about the history of how this day came to be a national holiday thanks to the tireless efforts of advocates such as Opal Lee, the “grandmother of Juneteenth.”

The audience then experienced a powerful poetry performance by Michelle La Poetica Richardson, who called upon us to fully experience the strength of unity, even through the celebration of our differences. The Juneteenth flag was raised in a ceremony carried out by the Honor Guard of the Junior ROTC of Beverly as singer Janey David led the crowd in singing the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

If you missed it or want to experience it again, you can find a recording of the event at https://youtu.be/85rbqpyGeVA. Many thanks to the tireless folks at WCAT for sound and videography support at this event. And thanks to the Trustees of the Lucius Beebe Memorial Library who brought this flag-raising event to their lovely plaza in the middle of downtown Wakefield. This visible, central location has allowed the Town to continue sending important message of inclusion and belonging.

Find updates on all WHRC events on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/WHRC1/ or at the Town of Wakefield’s website www.wakefield.ma.us/human-rights-commission.