Bayonne NAACP to hold its first Juneteenth celebration

This will be the first celebration of the freedom festivities at 16th Street Park

The Pan-African flag was raised at Bayonne City Hall in June of 2020, then tradition continued in 2021, and will do so again in 2022. Photo by Daniel Israel.

The Bayonne branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is set to hold an inaugural Juneteenth Celebration.

Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when Major General Gordon Granger landed with Union soldiers in Galveston, Texas, spreading word that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This was two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, meaning that the slaves in the Confederacy remained enslaved until Union troops arrived to enforce the Proclamation.

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The festivities will take place just one day before Juneteenth on Saturday, June 18, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the 16th Street Park. Formally known as Thomas DiDomenico Park, the park is located off of Avenue A and 16th Street.

The celebration will be held rain or shine, so if it looks rainy, grab an umbrella and enjoy the fun. And plenty of fun will be at the event for sure.

President of the Bayonne NAACP Donald Byrd will offer opening remarks. Writer poet, and ESSENCE best-selling author and award-wining filmmaker Bill Holmes will be the Master of Ceremonies.

Live entertainment lineup

Music entertainment will include: legendary musician and former Bayonne Board of Education Trustee David “Doc” Watson with Ambrosia performing jazz saxophone and singing; Ronald Onion singing “Lift Every Voice & Sing;” and Josuha Nelson, a gospel singer in the tradition of Mahalia Jackson. All music for the program provided by Darren Kinamore Boston.

Dance performances will feature: tap dancer Jeff Foote; Djelikounda Dance Group from Guinea West Africa and the Bayonne High School Steppers.

Local poets will perform including: “the people’s poet” Michael Goines; a regular at Bogies and Nuyorican Café whose new book Where There’s Smoke will be released in June, Demetrius tha Poet; a spoken word artist who also does gospel and empowerment music of women of color, Angelique D; and a writer, actor, filmmaker, poet, and judge who is the author of the book “African Tales Under the Moonlight,” Oliver O. Mbamara.

There will also be a short skit on “The Wiz” by Bayonne High School Drama Society, as well as a presentation on the meaning and importance of Juneteenth by educator and storyteller Dr. Patricia Williams Diaw.

On top of the live entertainment that will be on display at the Juneteenth festivities, there will be a number of free giveaways, a 50/50 raffle, an array of food trucks, and all sorts of vendors selling some cool wares. And an official Juneteenth t-shirt will also be available for sale by the Bayonne NAACP.

At 3 p.m., there’s going to be a classic two-team basketball game, as well as other events. And following all of the fun, an after party social will be held at Mr. Cee’s at 17 East 21st Street from 6 to 10 p.m.

A flyer for the event provided by the Bayonne NAACP.

A new annual tradition 

This is the first celebration of the event at 16th Street Park in Bayonne. The event is being put together by the Education Committee of the Bayonne NAACP. Irene Pyke, who chairs the committee and is spearheading the organization of the event, told the Bayonne Community News that the Bayonne NAACP is hoping to make it an annual tradition.

“The NAACP is an organization not just for people of color, but for everyone that is struggling for equality and injustice,” Pyke said. “The whole point of this event is to bring everyone together: all nationalities, all creeds, all sexual orientations. We just want to bring everyone together and have a great day of fellowship.

This June 19 marks the second year that Juneteenth has been recognized as a state holiday. Pyke noted that this year will be the first time that the Bayonne Board of Education will be closed for Juneteenth, on Monday, June 20.

And Pyke said this celebration will compliment the annual Juneteenth parade, celebration, and flag raising held by Black in Bayonne. “We will definitely be there to support,” Pyke added.

The planned inaugural Juneteenth Celebration is another component of efforts under Byrd to reinvigorate the Bayonne NAACP and its local programming offerings.

For more information on the celebration, email bayonnenaacp1017@gmail.com, or call 973-910-8649. For more information including about membership, contact Secretary Patricia Jack by phone at 551-689-2421 or email her at pjack07@aol.com.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.