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Celebrating Juneteenth on Martha's Vineyard: Festivities of Freedom and Unity


Juneteenth, now recognized as a federal holiday, holds a special place on Martha's Vineyard, where the community comes together for a host of multicultural events and activities. This celebration of freedom commemorates June 19, 1865, the day when the United States finally achieved the total abolition of slavery, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. While Martha’s Vineyard is evidenced to have been engaged in the slave trade, there is a far richer history rooted in the abolitionist movement, and Martha's Vineyard has become a safe haven for Black families since the 1800s. Here we discuss the significance of Juneteenth, highlights the exciting events happening on the Island, and emphasizes the importance of supporting black-owned businesses, this month and all year long.

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth, a portmanteau of "June" and "nineteenth," is a significant holiday in the United States that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. On this day in 1865, General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce the end of slavery, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. Juneteenth represents a vital milestone in the struggle for equality and serves as a reminder of the ongoing fight against racial injustice.

Martha's Vineyard's Historical Connection

Martha's Vineyard has long embraced the cause of abolition. As early as 1787, the arrival of former slave and preacher John Saunders marked the beginning of support for the abolitionist movement on the Island. Today, Martha's Vineyard, particularly Oak Bluffs, continues to be a renowned getaway for Black families, proud of its legacy and commitment to providing a safe place for all to enjoy, regardless of race or color. All year long the African American Heritage Trail of Martha’s Vineyard continues to remind residents and visitors alike of the contributions made by people of African descent to the history of the Island.


For a complete line up and schedule of events, you can view the program below:

Additional events:


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