Enterprise Bank will observe Juneteenth Freedom Day and all branches and offices will be closed on Saturday, June 19. Juneteenth is officially recognized as a state holiday by both the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and State of New Hampshire.
In his proclamation of June 19, 2020 declaring Juneteenth an annual state holiday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said, “Juneteenth is a chance for us all to reflect on this country’s painful history of slavery and the systemic impact that racial injustice continues to have today. It is also an opportunity to recommit ourselves to the goal of creating a more equal and just society.” In 2007, Governor Deval Patrick, the Commonwealth’s first African-American governor, declared June 19 as Juneteenth Independence Day in Massachusetts, making it the 25th state to officially observe and commemorate the date.
New Hampshire Governor Christopher T. Sununu, in his 2020 official proclamation calling Juneteenth Day to the attention of all citizens, noted New Hampshire’s “long history and involvement in the emancipation and abolishment of slavery” that predated the Civil War by many years. Governor Sununu officially recognized Juneteenth as a state holiday in 2019 when he signed into effect Senate Bill 194.
As we continue to learn about the impact of ongoing racism and the greater need for equity and inclusion, we can begin with honoring the history of those who have been denied such acknowledgement until now.
History of Juneteenth
Juneteenth, a combination of “June” and “Nineteenth,” is also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day, and is a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States.
President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free” on January 1, 1863. It took 2.5 years and an announcement by Union Army general Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865 proclaiming freedom from slavery in Texas, before the enslaved people of Texas learned they were freed.
Juneteenth celebrations date to 1866 and primarily involved church-centered community gatherings in Texas. By the 1920s and 30s, recognition of the date had spread across the South and often centered on a food festival. By 2020, 47 states recognized the date, and activists were campaigning for the United State Congress to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday.
Modern Juneteenth celebrations tend to be local events that include public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation and works by African-American writers including Ralph Ellison and Maya Angelou and the singing of traditional songs such as "Lift Every Voice and Sing”.
Local Organizations and Juneteenth Observances
Explore these local organizations for resources and events, including Juneteenth observances.
- 1st Annual Juneteenth Flag Raising at Lowell City Hall is happening on Saturday, June 19th at 9am. Join Mayor Leahy and other city officials along with the community in celebrating! Learn More
- Andover Baptist Church and Andover Community Services Department present Juneteenth Celebration in the Park on June 19. Learn More
- Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire promotes awareness and appreciation of African American history and life in order to build more inclusive communities today. Learn more at https://blackheritagetrailnh.org. They are hosting Juneteenth 2021 -Dance of The Ancestors: Ritual, Chants, Drumming & Movement on June 19. Learn More
- Black Lives Matter Nashua is hosting an event at Nashua Public library Plaza on June 19. Learn More
- Free Soil Arts Collective hosts their First Annual Juneteenth Celebration on June 19 in partnership with DIY Lowell and the "Visualize Lowell's Black History" project. Participate in an immersive, outdoor traveling theatre experience highlighting the legacy of Black people in Lowell, MA. Learn More
- Juneteenth Freedom Day Picnic at Old Armory Park at 50 Westford Street in Lowell, MA from 3pm to 8pm will have Free Food & Beverages (while supplies last) with Music, Entertainment & Information about this holiday. Bring your own lawn chair or blanket.
- Merrimack Valley Black and Brown Voices, Inc., provides Black and Brown people with a safe space to connect, share resources, and create systemic change in our cities/towns for Black and Brown people to live and thrive. Learn more at https://www.mvbbvoices.org/. They are hosting Juneteenth Block Party Celebration on June 19. Learn More
- Visit Downtown Lowell’s Visualize Lowell’s Black History program invites you to explore Lowell's Black history through art and interpretation. Learn More