Burlington celebrates Juneteenth with gospel brunch

Published: Jun. 19, 2022 at 7:54 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 20, 2022 at 6:51 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Monday is Juneteenth and the city of Burlington has been hosting events all weekend to celebrate.

Juneteenth, short for June 19th, celebrates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. And Sunday, just one year after being declared a federal holiday, Burlington community members got together to share the importance of the day with the whole city.

“We celebrate Fourth of July, we celebrate President’s Day in a country that was built off the backs of Black people. So, a day that there was emancipation -- and we knew that we were free not just on Juneteenth -- that should be celebrated every day,” said Casey Ellerby, an event organizer.

This is the second annual Juneteenth celebration in Burlington and organizers and volunteers like Veronica Dickson say the purpose of the events is not only to have fun but to also be educational.

“I think it’s so important to commemorate a holiday like Juneteenth. I think a lot of people might not be familiar with its significance so having things out in the open and having a lot of people enjoying themselves I think really invites the whole community to participate in it,” said Dickson.

They also say celebrating events like Juneteenth promotes visibility and brings the culture and story of Black Americans in the country to light.

“We think events like this are important to have because visibility is important. Issues that we think are important don’t come to the forefront unless we make them visible. And as Black and brown people, we know that it takes visibility for us to make those issues stick and it starts with things like making Juneteenth a federal holiday. And so now that we’re a year out from that, we’re starting to build onto the progress so we can see and track the progress that we are making as a country and as a city as we are here in Burlington today,” said Edwon Owusu, an event organizer and musician.

But they say what they want most from today is for the younger generations of African Americans to see and understand the meaning of Juneteenth and feel proud of both their ethnicity and culture.

“I do hope that the younger generation takes Juneteenth and takes every day to say, ‘Hey, we belong, we are included, we are a part of the story of this nation,’” said Ellerby.

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