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Juneteenth and Summer Solstice

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Summertime and the livin’s easyyyy. Or is it? With the change of seasons, we are now halfway through 2010, and after summer comes the changing leaves of fall and the cold, dark days of winter (my least favorite season). Time is flying by as usual and while I always begin the New Year with promises to do this and that, most of the time very little of this and that gets done. It’s not that I waste time—I just need to use it more efficiently. But that’s another article for another time. Let’s get back to summer.

On Satuday, June 19, the fourteenth annual Juneteenth celebration took place in the shadow of the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital and behind the Franklin Park Golf Course. It was a warm, sunny day and the celebration was in full swing nestled amongst the trees. A sea of tents covered the area as people streamed in with their friends and families searching for any remaining spots. My family and I were fortunate to procure a spot on a small hill. This provided us with an amazing view of the celebration below.

Juneteenth was MC’d by Sherman Jones, a local radio personality, and he made periodic announcements to the crowd on event happenings. There were prizes to be handed out for participating in a Soul Train line as well as tickets for the upcoming UniverSoul Circus (June 29th–July 5th) at Northeastern University. Metro PCS gave children yo-yos and jump ropes and Census 2010 gave out pins and asked people to complete the census forms.

Vendors sold their wares, and flyers were distributed for upcoming parties and boat rides. It was a day to come together, share information, and enjoy good food.

Ah, the food! You could smell the barbecue before you reached the area. The chefs of the day had spent either the night before or the very early morning hours of Saturday preparing their delicious dishes. Anything and everything could be found in just about every tent. If you wanted water, you would not go thirsty. If you wanted a burger, they were cooking on the grill. If you wanted cakes, pies, or cookies, your sweet tooth would be satisfied. No one was going hungry at Juneteenth.

The politicians were out in full force. Who could pass up an opportunity to meet and greet such a large audience? Gloria Fox spoke at the celebration. Charles Yancey worked the crowd shaking hands. Hassan Williams, new to the political scene, introduced himself to the people and promoted his campaign for state senate. Incumbent Governor Deval Patrick was on hand with his entourage touring the grounds and posing for photo ops. I was even able to have a few words with the governor and get his autograph. It was one of the highlights of my day.

As we left, more people were still coming in. The celebration was on until 7 p.m., but friends told me that people were still there well after that time. Who could blame them? When you come together as a community and treat each other like family, you don’t want to leave—there was too much fun to be had. Juneteenth is the party in the park.


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