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West Hartford to celebrate Juneteenth on Sunday

Participants will dedicate 14 new Witness stones to honor the achievements of enslaved individuals.

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — West Hartford will be hosting its third annual Juneteenth CommUNITY Celebration on Sunday, June 19 at Blue Back Square.

At 10 a.m., First Church of Christ Congregational, 12 South Main Street, will hold a special service led by guest preacher Reverend Fredd Ward followed by a social hour and marker dedication to Rev. Lemuel Haynes, son of West Hartford and the first credentialed African-American clergyman in the United States.

At 12:30 p.m., at Blue Back Square, the Witness Stones Project will dedicate 14 new Witness Stones. This project seeks to restore the history and honor the humanity and contributions of enslaved individuals, who in part, built our community.

RELATED: Juneteenth 2022: what's open, what's closed

Students and community members will read the names of 50 enslaved people that were researched by West Hartford students. Also, short biographies of the 14 individuals comprising the new Witness Stones will be read. Hartford Poet Laureate Frederick Douglass Knowles, III will close the program with an original poem created for the occasion.

Celebration attendees will also be able to view the new street sign for Dinah Road, to replace New Street in Blue Back Square. Students who led the petition drive will introduce Dinah and her daughter Dinah who were enslaved in West Hartford in the 18th century. This street will be the first in West Hartford to be named after an African American.

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West Hartford's Third Annual Community Juneteenth Celebration will kick off at 1:30 PM, led by master of ceremonies newscaster Wendell Edwards. Alvin Carter and Friendz World Music will start the event with a traditional African ceremony which includes dancing and drumming.

Keynote Speakers for this year's Juneteenth Celebration will be State Representative Stephanie Thomas, candidate for Connecticut Secretary of State, and West Hartford State Representative Tammy Exum. Tatyahah Datil,  senior from Conard High School, is this year's Juneteenth West Hartford Public Schools student speaker.

RELATED: Juneteenth is Sunday: Here's its 150-year history

The 2022 headline performer is Nekita Waller, Connecticut State Troubadour. Additional performances include the University of Hartford Gospel Choir and West End Wiz Bangerz. Be sure to visit the Juneteenth Art Exhibition on display at the Noah Webster Library, 20 South Main Street, now through August 1.

The celebration includes event vendors that will be open for business at 12PM and local DJ B-EZ who will play non-stop hits throughout the afternoon. Commemorative West Hartford Juneteenth bags, water bottles and the traditional "red' beverage from Avery's Soda will be available at the main table in Blue Back Square.

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