Q&A: ‘Juneteenth’ Celebration Set for June 19


Building on the success of last year’s inaugural event, New Canaan-founded Stand Together Against Racism, or STAR, has scheduled its Juneteenth celebration for 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday, June 19 at the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society. Sponsors include Walter Stewart’s Market, Bankwell, NCM&HS, New Canaan Library and NewCanaanite.com

We put some questions to Juneteenth Co-Chairs Shona Goldenberg and Shandia Mitchell. Here’s our exchange.

New Canaanite: What is the significance of Juneteenth, and why did the STAR organization decide to celebrate it?

Sponsors of Stand Together Against Racism or STAR’s Juneteenth celebration, to be held 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday, June 19 at the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society, gather with STAR members ahead of the event, L-R: Doug Stewart of Walter Stewart’s Market, Shona Goldenberg of STAR, Nancy Geary of NCM&HS, Fatou Niang of STAR, Shandia Mitchell of STAR, Michael Dinan of New Canaanite andBill Lindsay, Branch Manager of the Cherry Street branch at Bankwell. Credit: Ambereen Sadiq

Shona: Juneteenth holds immense historical importance as it marks the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans in the United States. It became a federal holiday in 2021 and a state holiday in Connecticut in 2023. The STAR organization initiated the celebration in alignment with their mission of educating communities about social injustice through historical education. Additionally, as Juneteenth awareness grows, it perfectly aligns with STAR’s goal of fostering community events to increase understanding.

How does this year’s Juneteenth celebration align with STAR’s mission and goals?

Shandia: STAR’s mission revolves around teaching the community about social injustice through educational initiatives and historical context. Juneteenth serves as an ideal platform for achieving this mission, as it remains relatively unknown to many people. By organizing community events and promoting Juneteenth, STAR enhances awareness and educates individuals about its historical significance, perfectly aligning with their broader mission.

What key events and activities are planned for this year’s Juneteenth celebration?

Shona: The STAR organization has curated an exciting lineup of events and activities for this year’s Juneteenth celebration. The schedule includes performances by the Misfits, a band renowned for their incredible music. Additionally, a graffiti artist named Five Fingers will lead a community graffiti wall project. Ms. Thelma’s, a soul food restaurant from Bridgeport, will be present to serve authentic cuisine, and a small business vendor will offer Malawian African jewelry. The event will also feature a signature Juneteenth drink, courtesy of Walter Stewart’s.

How did the community respond to the Juneteenth celebration last year, and what are the expectations for this year?

Shona: Last year’s Juneteenth celebration garnered a fantastic response from the community, with a substantial turnout of enthusiastic participants. The event was well-received, and many attendees eagerly await this year’s celebration. With increased awareness and the absence of a clash with Father’s Day, STAR anticipates an even larger and more impactful Juneteenth celebration this year.

What role does education play in the Juneteenth celebration, and how does STAR promote understanding of systemic racism and its history?

Shandia: STAR places a strong emphasis on education during Juneteenth celebrations. Through social media platforms and on-site information, STAR shares the historical context and significance of Juneteenth, encouraging individuals to conduct further research. Furthermore, STAR conducts a social justice youth book club, where participants read Juneteenth books and engage in related art projects. The artwork produced during these sessions is displayed, allowing attendees to contemplate the meaning of Juneteenth and its relevance to the present.

Are there any collaborations or partnerships in place for the Juneteenth celebration, and could you share some details about them?

Shona: STAR has established collaborations with several organizations for the Juneteenth celebration. They have partnered with the local YMCA’s after-school program, where children aged 5 to 10 will design a Juneteenth-themed flag. This flag will be showcased at the YMCA, accompanied by historical information about Juneteenth. 

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