Greenfield to host inaugural Juneteenth celebration on Sunday


Staff Writer
Published: 6/16/2022 5:10:03 PM
Modified: 6/16/2022 5:07:47 PM

GREENFIELD — In the midst of racial divide in Greenfield, one local organizer is hoping to bring the city together for an opportunity to “set aside our differences and heal our community.”

“Our community is going through a terrible time right now,” said Mpress Bennu, who is organizing the inaugural Juneteenth celebration at Energy Park on Sunday, referencing not only the Police Department’s racial discrimination verdict that shed light on the reality Greenfield isn’t exempt from racism, but community division in general.

“Everyone is affected by it,” said Bennu, a member of the Human Rights Commission. “That’s why it was very important to me to take on Juneteenth as my baby, my new project, and use it as a teaching forum for the young people of Greenfield but also for the middle-age and older people to learn why Juneteenth is a special day not just for African Americans, but all Americans.”

Juneteenth, which was formally recognized as a federal holiday last year, commemorates the day in 1865 when the last enslaved Americans in Texas were emancipated.

“This is the freedom day,” Bennu said. “Young people need to understand that no matter what color you are, that as much as you know about July 4, this is just as important. Both (dates) relate to freedom; both of them deal with civil rights, human rights and basically democracy and … the fulfillment of the Constitution of the United States.”

Bennu credited President Joe Biden for signing the federal holiday into law, referring to it as a “step in the right direction.”

“I feel proud as an African American being the one to make history in Greenfield by stepping up and starting this great event,” she added. Bennu is facilitating the event through her organizations Moving Mountains Media and Advocacy for B.O.B (Black Owned Business).

Sunday’s event, from noon to 5 p.m., will feature local leaders and politicians, including state Rep. Bud Williams, D-Springfield, and Mayor Roxann Wedegartner, who will speak to racism, equity and racial justice. There will also be performances by StyleFX Studios and Artspace Community Arts Center.

“It was another (priority) to put people of color — men and women — on the forefront,” Bennu said. “Basically, saying we are leaders, we are educators, and we are here in Franklin County, too.”

Bennu said she hopes the event inspires other people of color to “feel pride in our culture” and participate more in City Council or on other local commissions.

“We’re part of this community,” she said.

Bennu said she invited the Greenfield Police Department and is expecting both acting Police Chief William Gordon and Police Sgt. Chris Greene.

“My goal here is to bring everybody together,” Bennu said. “There’s strength in numbers.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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