As a disclaimer, I’m prejudiced in favor of Juneteenth. It is, after all, my birthday as well as a holiday in 37 of our states. The first state to recognize it as such was Texas, where on June 19th, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger announced the Civil War was over and slaves were free.
If much mellower, the sentiment remains, even a couple of thousand mile east northeast. They’re still at it in Roxbury and did it again today at Franklin Park, a day early. As charming loudmouth activist Alfreda Harris said on stage at what is of the cricket pitch there, “We started with peanut butter and jelly and now we have steak and chicken.”
Indeed, we did. The massive field had a tight necklace with family canopies as the jewels all around. Huge sooty smokers and many dozens of grills burned all manner of animal and vegetative matter to the joy and sharing of all comers. It’s a fun day every year and more Asians, whites and Latinos should show. Good food, good music, good feelings, good times.
Probably the most serious attendants were the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Company A and Colored Ladies’ Christian Relief Society. Replete with canvas tents, heavy uniform and period firearms, they remained in good spirits in the heat. They explained their educational goals and pointed to their website for updates on upcoming encampments and events.
I suspect you can discern in the pic which are members and which are politicians LG Tim Murray, and City Councilors Tito Jackson and Felix Arroyo.
I’ve attended several of the local Juneteenth parties. Today, I was looking unsuccessfully for Ayanna Pressley, who had been pitching her attendance. I did not find her and hope it was just because there were so many tents, grills, people, and locations.
While Bruins fans stood open mouthed hoping for a glimpse of the One True Cross Stanley Cup, hundreds were in for the afternoon in Franklin Park. Many likely missed the ephemeral pleasures on the main stage. Pity.
Harris is a delightfully self-absorbed emcee. She introduced the City Councilors, Felix Arroyo and Tito Jackson, the members of the Roxbury Homecoming Committee (hosting the event), LG Murray, and members of the 54th Infantry.
Murray read a proclamation by Gov. Deval Patrick dubbing tomorrow as Juneteenth, independence day, for Massachusetts in honor of the freeing of slaves.
Ever cool, he could have teased her (passing behind him in the pic) for misnaming his Lieutenant Murphy with something about how all those Irish-Americans look alike and how their names are so similar. Instead, he kept in the spirit of the day and did his do.
She may been at her best in preparing to introducing the pols on stage. She said there were politicians, “And you are politicians, aren’t you?” with slight derision. When Arroyo tried to outquip her with, “We’re community leaders,” she was quick with, “No, I’m a community leader. You’re politicians.”
All three pols were charmed and amused. They laughed.
The takeaway is that Juneteenth in Boston is worth the visit. It’s annually pretty close to my birthday. It’s been in Franklin Park for quite awhile and likely will be next year.
Parking is tight. Be there early (starts at 8 AM or be prepared to hump your tent and grill gear). If you just show, people will be friendly and feed you, but you’ll be in their debt and less civilized.
By the bye, Worcester will have a serious version next weekend, June 25th, from noon to 8 PM.