Connecticut’s First Known Juneteenth Celebration in Norwich – Who Knew?
A group of people standing on a pier with the mast of a ship in the background. One person in the foreground is holding a drum and another person is holding a folder

Bill signing ceremony in New London for legislation establishing Juneteenth as a state holiday in Connecticut - Governor Ned Lamont

…that the Norwich Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) organized the first known celebration of Juneteenth in Connecticut in 1989.

Juneteenth is a holiday that celebrates and marks the end of slavery in the United States. The date commemorates the anniversary of June 19, 1865 when US Army troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, and enslaved people learned of their freedom—two and half years after the Emancipation Proclamation officially set them free. African American communities, particularly in Texas and the South, have long celebrated Juneteenth. In 1989, the Norwich Branch of the NAACP organized the first official Juneteenth celebration in Connecticut—several other towns followed suit in subsequent years. As part of Norwich’s 2012 Juneteenth Celebration, the city forged the “Norwich Freedom Bell” that is now located in the David Ruggles Freedom Courtyard. In 2022, Juneteenth became an official Connecticut state holiday.

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