Greenfield’s Juneteenth celebration on Wednesday expected to be largest yet

Dancers with scarves dance in a drum circle at the 2023 Juneteenth celebration at Beacon Field in Greenfield. This year’s event will be held Wednesday.

Dancers with scarves dance in a drum circle at the 2023 Juneteenth celebration at Beacon Field in Greenfield. This year’s event will be held Wednesday. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Alpha Kabisko Kaba leads a drum circle at the 2023 Juneteenth celebration at Beacon Field in Greenfield. This year’s event will be held Wednesday.

Alpha Kabisko Kaba leads a drum circle at the 2023 Juneteenth celebration at Beacon Field in Greenfield. This year’s event will be held Wednesday. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 06-14-2024 5:45 PM

Modified: 06-14-2024 5:50 PM


GREENFIELD — In what Human Rights Commission Chair Mpress Bennu said is expected to be the city’s largest Juneteenth celebration yet, the Greenfield community will take to the streets Wednesday for a day of art, food and Black history.

Since 2021, when the Biden administration first officially recognized Juneteenth — commemorating the day in 1865 when the last enslaved Americans in Texas were emancipated — as a federal holiday, the city has hosted two consecutive Juneteenth celebrations in 2022 and 2023. Bennu, who organizes the annual event, said this year’s parade, beginning at 11 a.m. on the Greenfield Common, is expected to attract roughly 150 marchers — more than three times the number of participants in last year’s parade.

“There’s a lot of energy behind the parade. ... It is for the whole community to be involved and it is definitely kid-friendly,” Bennu said. “There’s a lot of culture, a lot of art, a lot of entertainment. I always try to keep entertainment as part of my events because I love entertainment, I love community and I love so much of what the young people are doing.”

Bennu said the event will feature a number of performers between noon and 4 p.m., such as Senegalese dancer Abdou Sarr, the Franklin County’s YMCA Dancers, Strings for Kids, Musica Franklin, Style FX studios and the Springfield-based musician NBS Malay, along with food trucks, Stone Soup Cafe volunteers and more than 40 vendors at Beacon Field.

At 1:50 p.m., there will be a fashion show with clothing from the Positively Africana gift shop in Northampton and Fortune Infinite-HIP HOP Wear. The event also features a list of speakers representing city government, private businesses and organizations starting at 1 p.m.

This year’s celebration will center around the historical abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, who spoke at Greenfield’s Washington Hall at 265 Main St. in 1866. As a tribute to Douglass, The LAVA Center will present a reading from Douglass’ 1852 “What to the Slave is Fourth of July?” speech at 2:10 p.m.

“It’s definitely increased and enhanced since last year. This has always been my goal, we just make it a little bigger and a little bit more festive every year,” Bennu said. “It gives me a certain personal gratification, just to see how our community comes together to support this. ... Franklin County, Hampshire County, as well as New York and Vermont, people come from all over just to participate in our Juneteenth celebration right here in our little city of Greenfield.”

On Saturday, June 15, Bennu will be selling Juneteenth merchandise at the Greenfield Farmers’ Market on Court Square.

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Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.