Town of Kensington to Host Inaugural Juneteenth Celebration

by MCS Staff

The Town of Kensington’s Inaugural Juneteenth Celebration will be taking place June 18, 2022 from 12:00-4p.m., in St. Paul Park, with a rain date of June 19th. The street address of the park is 10564 St. Paul Street, Kensington, MD 20895. Below you will see a piece titled Inaugural Juneteenth Celebration Brings History to Life in St. Paul Park by Kenna Barrett Member of the Kensington Racial Justice Committee via the May journal of the Town of Kensington:

Like most Americans, Jamie Boston thought he knew what was in the Emancipation Proclamation. When he sat down with his young daughters to read it all the way through–in preparation for his family’s Juneteenth celebration last year–the retired combat veteran and U.S. Army JAG found an entirely different document than he expected.

Lincoln’s 1862 Proclamation “wasn’t so much about freeing slaves, it did that to a degree” Boston reflected, “but it was really an invention by President Lincoln to create presidential war powers.” The Proclamation, he said, was intended to free enslaved people and outlaw slavery in the rebel states to diminish the resources and manpower that slavery provided, and to allow enslaved people to join the Union army. Thus, the goal was ultimately to defeat the rebellion. “When one reads the Emancipation Proclamation,” Boston explained, “one soon realizes that the states who had slaves but were in support of the Union were generally left alone.”

One of the states left alone by the Proclamation was in fact Maryland, which did not abolish slavery until two years later, in 1864. Understanding that emancipation was a political tool that did not end of slavery in Maryland shapes our understanding of the past–and the present. “This is the part that’s glossed over,” said Boston, referring to the myth that Emancipation brought true freedom for everyone. “There’s more to the story and this complete story is ALL Americans’ history.”

Boston was inspired by his family’s celebration of Juneteenth last year to make the history of Juneteenth come alive for a broader audience. A Kensington resident since 2020, after being encouraged by his neighbor, State Delegate Emily Shetty, and then being connected with Councilmember Nate Engle, Boston was introduced to Mayor Tracey Furman and the Racial Justice Committee, who enthusiastically agreed to bring Juneteenth to the Town of Kensington. “The Federal holiday of Juneteenth commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States,” said Mayor Furman. “We want to celebrate emancipation in Kensington, of course, and to celebrate the diversity of our community, but we also want to recognize that there is still work to be done.”

When asked why he wanted to bring his celebration to Kensington, Boston spoke of his love for his new hometown, the fact that his neighbors were “all different colors of the rainbow,” and the strong sense of community that was a gift to him and his family when they settled here. On a more somber note, Boston also spoke of the polarization gripping the nation, the ways in which political differences have been essentialized, making it hard for people to make overtures across the aisle and create fellowship. “It will take a community like Kensington to bring this divided country back together,” he said. “We just have to start talking.”

The celebration, scheduled to take place in St. Paul Park on June 18 from 12:00-4:00 p.m., will feature food vendors, beverages, informational booths, historical reenactors, and free live and DJ music from gospel, jazz, folklore, and contemporary genres. And of course, there will be a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. “Fun with a purpose,” said Boston.

Don’t miss the Town of Kensington’s Inaugural Juneteenth Celebration, taking place June 18, 2022 from 12:00-4p.m., in St. Paul Park, with a rain date of June 19th. The street address of the park is 10564 St. Paul Street, Kensington, MD 20895.

Featured photo courtesy of the Town of Kensington website.

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