S.T.A.R.’s ‘Juneteenth’ Celebration Set for Next Wednesday, June 19 [Q&A]


S.T.A.R.'s Juneteenth celebration, "Hearts of Freedom," held June 19, 2023 at the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society. Credit: Connor Markey

New Canaan nonprofit organization Stand Together Against Racism, or S.T.A.R., will hold its annual Juneteenth celebration next week. Free and held on Wednesday, June 19 at the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society, Juneteenth marks the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States.

We put some questions to S.T.A.R. Founder and CEO Fatou Niang ahead of the festivities.

Here’s our exchange.


New Canaanite: STAR.’s Juneteenth celebration at the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society started out as a large gathering and it grew again in its second year. What are you anticipating for next Wednesday afternoon?

Fatou Niang: We are so excited to see this celebration taking roots in New Canaan and around the State. Last year we were impressed by the numbers of families that joined the celebration. We had over 500 guests coming from New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford and other CT towns. It was a fun-filled event with good music, great food and so many activities for kids. It was wonderful to watch and be part of. This year we are expecting an even bigger number of guests so this year we will have more food trucks coming, the amazing Mysfits band is coming back again so you know people will be dancing their hearts out! The library will be running the kids book corner, and so many more activities! But the most exciting thing will be the opportunity for those attending to create a community art piece with mixed media artist Sharon Smalls of Bridgeport.

For those who have been able to attend, what happens at the Juneteenth celebration?

If you haven’t attended Juneteenth in town yet, you are in for a treat! We invite the whole community to simply come have fun and celebrate another important milestone in American History. As I mentioned before, we will have: Live music from Fairfield County band, The Misfits; Local food trucks specializing in delicious soul food including Thelma’s Soul Food, Vegan Eats and ZLicious Caribbean Kitchen; An interactive community art piece that guests can help create with Bridgeport-based Sharon Smalls Walton, a mixed media artist; and many children’s activity including a reading corner led by the New Canaan Library. Guests can also bring their own picnics. Readers can learn more here: https://www.star-ct.org/

How would you describe local support, among residents as well as businesses and organizations, for the Juneteenth celebration?

We are both overwhelmed and incredibly grateful for the community support all around. Without our sponsors, we would not be able to put on this free celebration. We thank Bankwell, The Glass House, Roselli Trading, the NewCanaanite for being our media sponsor, Walter Stewart’s, and David Rucci for their generous support and our partners at the New Canaan Library and the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society. And, of course, the Rotary Club of New Canaan for their generous grant, the SLOBs for helping with traffic to St Marks for parking. We can say that we have tremendous community support!

Juneteenth is truly a wonderful family event, with moms and dads picnicking with their kids and friends over the NCM&HS’s wide lawn. What would you tell a local family who hasn’t attended before and is thinking about going?

This is an outdoor event that’s good for adults and children alike. It is a free event and a great way create family memories. All they have to do is to register and come! Can’t be easier than that. Guests can bring a blanket and/or lawn chairs and enjoy their meal or one bought from one of our amazing soul food food trucks on location, listen to great music and let the kids run free and safely on the lawn or have them participate in activities. Truly relaxed and fun. Our hope is that they will dance on the amazing Mysfits’ beats! Kids always love the bubbles and beach balls! Drop ins are welcome but we kindly ask people to register in advance so we have enough supplies.

What else, if anything, would you like our readers to know about Juneteenth?

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, commemorates June 19, 1865, the date Union troops arrived in Galveston TX, informing the people of Texas that the Emancipation Proclamation, issued two and half years prior, had freed all people enslaved. Juneteenth National Independence Day was declared a Federal Holiday in 2021 and a State holiday in Connecticut, in 2023. It’s important for New Canaan to honor this holiday! S.T.A.R’s Juneteenth celebration will be better than ever. Here’s a fun fact about Juneteenth that many NewCanaanite readers may not know! Juneteenth is celebrated with red food like red velvet cakes, watermelon, strawberries and more to represent the resilience of African Americans throughout their journey to freedom. Our guests will be treated to traditional hibiscus tea/punch and red velvet cupcakes at no cost thanks to our dedicated volunteer bakers and the generosity of Walter Stewart’s Market. One other thing…due to construction at the Museum, guests will park next door at St. Mark’s Church. Give a friendly hello to the New Canaan Service League of Boys (SLOBs) volunteers who will help direct traffic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *