Newark, NJ – As the Juneteenth holiday approaches in 2023, Newark residents have a variety of events and activities to participate in throughout the week to commemorate this significant occasion. Juneteenth, which is derived from June 19, marks the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery in the United States. In 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation declaring Juneteenth a state and public holiday. Here are some of the highlights of what’s happening in Newark this year.
Closures and Services: On Monday, June 19, City Hall will be closed, and most non-emergency municipal services in Newark will be suspended in observance of the holiday. However, police, fire, and other uniformed emergency services will continue as usual. Trash and recycling services will operate as scheduled, with residents advised to place their bins out on the evening of Sunday, June 18. Services such as health clinic, inspection services, transportation for seniors, and the Bureau of Vital Statistics will not be available on the holiday. The Municipal Court will also be closed, although a judge will be available for bail hearings. Residents can make online payments for parking and traffic tickets through the website www.njmcdirect.com.
Juneteenth Festival: A Juneteenth festival will take place in Newark’s South Ward on Saturday, June 17, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The festival will be located on Bergen Street between Lyons Avenue and Hawthorne Place. Attendees can expect a vibrant celebration featuring vendors, food, live DJs, amusement activities, performances, carnival rides, and a dedicated health and wellness zone. Councilman Patrick Council of the South Ward highlights the historical significance of Juneteenth, symbolizing the liberation of African American people from slavery in Galveston, Texas, in 1865. The festival will also include a traditional libation ceremony to honor ancestors conducted by Bashir Muhammad Ptah Akinyele, a respected history and Africana studies teacher at Weequahic High School.
Reparations March and Rally: A Juneteenth march and rally advocating for reparations will be held on Monday, June 19, starting at 2 p.m. The event will commence at the Lincoln Statue, located at 12 Springfield Avenue in Newark, at the intersection of Springfield Avenue and West Market Street. The rally will feature prominent speakers, including activists, elected officials, and representatives from labor, clergy, and the community. Supported by various organizations such as the People’s Organization For Progress and the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, this demonstration aims to demand reparations for African Americans who have endured centuries of enslavement, apartheid, segregation, and ongoing systemic racism. The organizers urge the New Jersey State Legislature to pass the reparations commission bills and call for the establishment of a federal reparations commission by Congress.
Expungement Clinic: Ayr Wellness and Blaze Responsibly, in collaboration with the City of Newark and the municipal council, will host a free community expungement clinic on Juneteenth, Monday, June 19, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The clinic will take place at Good Neighbor Baptist Church, located at 100 Chancellor Avenue. Attendees will have the opportunity to consult with volunteer attorneys and learn about expungement, address any pending fines or open warrants, and receive support in obtaining identification documents. Additionally, the clinic will offer assistance to veterans, provide healthy meals, and focus on promoting a clean slate for individuals affected by the consequences of the failed War on Drugs.
These events and initiatives in Newark provide opportunities for residents to engage in meaningful activities that commemorate the historical significance of Juneteenth while addressing issues such as reparations and social justice.