Nubian Square block party kicks off Juneteenth weekend

ROXBURY — A Nubian Square block party on Friday closed out a nearly week-long festival and kicked off Juneteenth weekend.

The Embrace Ideas Festival 2022, celebrating Black culture, music and art is rooted in an effort of racial equality, healing and joy, King Boston Executive Director Imari Paris Jeffries told Boston 25 News.

“We imagine two years, three years, five years from now, all of us will know how to celebrate Juneteenth as a day of welcoming and belonging,” Paris Jeffries said. “I’m African American, but those who are not might not know how to celebrate Juneteenth. So, we’re asking them the questions: Can this be a holiday of welcome? Can this be a holiday of ideas? Can this be a holiday of music? And can it be a holiday of meeting new people?”

The festival uplifted young musicians and artists, offering them a stage and a space to express themselves and showcase their talents. The event also featured community organizations, businesses and food trucks.

“It’s a great celebration of the scholars, the artists, the activists in the city,” said Tchad Cort of the festival. “It’s a celebration of our freedom, of our joy.”

Juneteenth marks the end of slavery in Texas, completing national emancipation.

Juneteenth became a federal holiday last year, but it was recognized by state and city leaders long before, including former Boston city councilor Charles Yancey, who took part in the festivities.

“For far too long, African Americans have been taken for granted, dismissed, not to mention being held in contempt by so many different institutions,” Yancey said. “It’s like we’re invisible. Now, at long last, even though people of color and African Americans have been in Boston from the very beginning, we’re finally getting some recognition, and that’s positive. My great-grandfather fought in the Civil War. My family’s from Boston for over 200 years.”

Several city and state leaders, including Mayor Michelle Wu and Gov. Charlie Baker, attended the Friday event.

Many in attendance told Boston 25 News recognition of Juneteenth is a long time coming.

“It means a lot. It’s for the culture, for the people, for the ancestors, for folks who fought to have the holiday,” said Jean Dolin.

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