Music, poetry, passion at Juneteenth celebration

Marblehead High School students of color shared their visions of a “world with justice” at the town’s third annual Juneteenth celebration and flag raising on June 14. More than 100 people gathered on the Abbot Hall lawn for the event.

Marblehead resident Maeve Hargrove listens with her five-year-old twins Luna and A.J. at the town’s Juneteenth celebration.

“A world with justice looks like being able to check social media without seeing another article about a victim of police brutality,” said Kendal-Arielle Verdine-Ngole. “A world with justice sounds like no more mothers mourning for their Black sons. A world with justice is being able to walk down the street without being approached by a police officer who assumes you are up to no good.”

Student Bernardo Bannis added, “A world with justice is when we get pulled over by the police and we do not have to record for our own safety, from the people who are meant to protect us.”

Several Marblehead students of color shared their visions of a “world with justice.”

Shakayla Baxter said, “A world with justice gives everyone access to the services they deserve no matter what they look like or what their bank account looks like.”

And from Emiyah Setalsingh, “A world with justice provides health care for all and hospitals provide high-quality service no matter the zip code. A world with justice makes my family and me feel protected by the government.”

Juneteenth celebrates the day that word of the Emancipation Proclamation freeing enslaved Black Americans finally reached Galveston, Texas, two years after it was made.

The 90-minute Juneteenth program also featured Greg Coles who played an African drum and spoke about the importance of music, storytelling and resilience in the African tradition. Nicole McClain, president of the North Shore Juneteenth Association, also talked about the resilience of people of color.

“Four-hundred years of slavery, 101 years of segregation and unceasing years of oppression and so-called freedom, and here we are still becoming. Becoming students. Becoming scientists, lawyers, doctors and so much more while navigating systemic racism the best way we can.”

 ‘I want you to do something.” Rev. Dr. Andre Bennett speaks at Marblehead’s Juneteenth celebration

Rev. Dr. Andre Bennett — who has spoken at many Marblehead social justice events — delivered an impassioned speech about the need for action. He quoted Martin Luther King, Jr., saying, “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.”

“Marblehead, you know I like you. I come here a lot,” he said with a big smile. “But I don’t want the sentimental and anemic love. I want you to do something. Until it’s safe for me to drive through Marblehead without my heart on my tongue because I might get pulled over because I don’t look like most people in Marblehead, we who believe in freedom can not rest.

“I want to see some diversity in your local government,” he continued. “Give us power with the love you give us. “

 The Juneteenth flag flies over Marblehead with the pride flag and American flag.

Bennett also addressed attempts nationwide to limit the teaching of African-American history.

“You will not erase our history. You will not erase our history of building this nation.”

At the end of the program, Tanya Crowell sang the Black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” while the Juneteenth flag was raised. It flies along with the U.S. flag and the pride flag.

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Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.

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