Juneteenth Day, An Emancipation Celebration in Roxbury, MA at the NCAAA

By Roudnie Célestin, Equity Program Officer at the Boston Public Library

On a nice Monday in Roxbury, MA — the very day of Juneteenth, declared as a federal holiday in 2021— I gathered with other Boston Public Library (BPL) staff on the lawn of the National Center for African-American Artists (NCAAA). I walked up to the rock wall, lined with giddy teens and vendors. Jovial BPL staff wore yellow T-shirts and our yellow banner walked the Roxbury Parade just moments earlier.

We put the "TEA" in Equity — time, energy, and attitude — to coordinate staff participation, as led by our very own Akunna Eneh — Programs & Outreach Librarian at the Roxbury Branch in Nubian Square. Staff engaged with attendees, gave out free books, and did the Cha Cha Slide with the kids! It's an honor to be part of this emancipation celebration.

When I asked colleagues who attended to share about their experience, Opetoritse “Ritse” Adefolalu, Youth Librarian at the Lower Mills Branch of the BPL, shared:

“To me, Juneteenth is the true celebration of independence for African Americans (as opposed to July 4th). It’s also a perfect occasion for engaging with and sharing the history of black people in this country. I had a wonderful experience at the event! It was my first Boston parade, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one to start with. Juneteenth celebrates a community that doesn’t receive such treatment as often as it should. Boston is also home to the creator of the Juneteenth flag, making it an especially relevant holiday for our city.”

I want to thank all our colleagues who were able to participate this year:

You can also read the Juneteenth Fact Sheet from the Congressional Research Service for a historical overview on legislation around Juneteenth.