Greenwich House and Village neighbors celebrated Juneteenth with a procession of events, including double-dutch jump-ropers that wowed the crowd with their coordination and athleticism.
The neighborhood group took over Jones Street, and villagers gathered from around the area for the joyous event — waving flags, telling stories, listening to music and munching down on terrific food.
Alphonso Horne and his band, along with other performers, created an atmosphere of smiles and foot-stomping for kids and adults alike, while Puppet Cindy mesmerized young ones with a dazzling display of colors and commercial routines.
To the pulse of New Orleans-style music, which included a mini-procession, parents and Village neighbors continued the vibe throughout the day.
Clay creations were formed at a street-side table right outside of Greenwich House Pottery, allowing Manhattanites to tap into their creative side.
Juneteenth flags with a blue band of color above a red band, a Texas star in center, were fabricated at the crafts table, carried and waved during the afternoon (and coincidentally, this designated flag looks very similar to the flag of Haiti, the only country with a successful slave revolution).
The afternoon took notice of Juneteenth, June 19, 1865 — the date when those enslaved in Texas were notified that they were free; though they had in fact been free for two and a half years.
President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Jan. 1 of 1863, but only when Major General Gordon Grange led the Union Army Occupation Force, two and a half years later, and issued an order there, plantation owners got the message they could no longer practice forced labor and all slaves actually became free.
With jubilation, the 250,000 slaves in Texas embraced this news and since 1866, the date has been celebrated in Texas.
Last year, President Biden signed into legislation Juneteenth as a national holiday — the first new federal holiday since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day nearly four decades ago.
In past years around New York City (and the country), some groups or communities celebrated this Black Emancipation Day — June 19 — with programs or block parties. Now the whole country acknowledges the day.
For the African-American community the date has alway been their Day of Independence, marking freedom from the long, hard night of slavery and subjugation. Now as a federal holiday, attention is focused on the meaning of that day. It is an eye opener for those previously unaware, unlocking the discussion door about slavery and the development of this country.