6/22/15

Marrakech Observes Juneteenth

  On June 18th, members of Marrakech's Multicultural Advisory Council planned to celebrate "Juneteenth", the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. It was on June 19th, 1865, that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and the enslaved were now free. Juneteenth, which has become a national day of pride, celebrates African American freedom and achievement while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. 
  
The Juneteenth Committee of Marrakech's
Multicultural Advisory Council
Back Row L-R: Denise Stevenson, Veronica Alston, Faith Mann, Rashawn Peter, Sarah Smith. Front Row L-R: Michael Morgan Ellen Iead, Marc Chartier, Jen Percopo

Upon hearing the news about the nine innocent people who were gunned down in South Carolina on the morning of the celebration, Mike Morgan, Manager of Marrakech's Taking Initiative Center and one of the organizers of the event, said the decision was made to refer to the day as an "Observation" rather than a celebration. The ceremony, held at Marrakech's Whalley Avenue location, began with a moment of silence to honor the victims of the shooting. 


Veronica Alston Singing "Let There be Peace on Earth"
The attendees then were treated to Veronica Alston singing of "Let There be Peace on Earth", followed by a discussion about the meaning of Juneteenth and the on-going effort to realize Dr. King's dream. 

The day included the reading of The Spirit of Juneteenth and the official Juneteenth poem, We Rose, read by Ellen Iead. 

Participants received handouts with information about the day, copies of the readings and poems, and had an opportunity to discuss the CT Freedom Trail and view photos of slave quarters in Connecticut. Some of the attendees who have visited the slave quarters had an opportunity to discuss their experiences and feelings about their visit. 

Mike Morgan showing map of locations of The Underground Railroad
and The Freedom Trail in Connecticut.
The day ended with "Juneteenth Jeopardy!", which included categories including Civil War, Freedom, Labor, CT Freedom Trail and Presidents. Marc Chartier, Coordinator of Program Support Services and Client Rights/Privacy  Officer was the winner of Juneteenth Jeopardy!

Jennifer Percopo  checks out the locations of The CT Freedom Trail
  
We Rose

From Africa's heart, we rose
Already a people, our faces ebon, our bodies lean,
We rose

Skills of art, life, beauty and family
Crushed by forces we knew nothing of, we rose

Survive we must, we did,
We rose

We rose to be you, we rose to be me
Above everything expected, we rose

To become the knowledge we never knew,
We rose

Dream, we did

Act we must

~Kristina Kay, We Rose, c 1996, Juneteenth.com