Ava Rose, 6, dances with her brother, Saturday on the town green. (Nancy Chapman)
NORWALK, Conn. — The First Taxing District hosted a Juneteenth celebration Saturday on the town green.
“On June 19, 1865, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. This, however was two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect January, 1863. This day, the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, has become a day for African Americans to celebrate not only their freedom, but their history, culture and achievements,” a news release from the Governor’s Office explained.
From left, State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25), Lucia Rilling, State Rep. candidate Kadeem Roberts, Council member David Heuvelman (D-District A), Judge of Probate Doug Stern, Mayor Harry Rilling, Council member Josh Goldstein (D-At Large), U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Greenwich), First Taxing District Commissioner Jalin Sead, State Rep. Travis Simms (D-140) and Council member Dominique Johnson (D-At Large), who is also running for State Representative. (Elsa Peterson Obuchowski)
On May 27, Gov. Ned Lamont signed Public Act 22-128 into law, making Juneteenth a state holiday as of Oct. 1. The legislation was approved with the near-unanimous support of lawmakers in the General Assembly, by a vote of 148 to 1 in the House of Representatives and 35 to 1 in the Senate.
Juneteenth became a federal holiday in June 2021 when President Biden signed into law Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, S. 475.
Norwalk mom Valerie Bird with grandaughter Autumn. (John Levin)
“Juneteenth marks an important day in our nation that for far too long has gone under-recognized and has not been truly appreciated to the extent that it should be as a major part of United States history,” Lamont said in a news release. “While some elected officials in other states are working to block efforts to teach the true history of our nation, it fills me with pride that here in Connecticut we are embracing that history and working to educate everyone about how our nation was built and the significance of what this day means.”
The effective date of the legislation is Oct. 1, meaning that next year’s Juneteenth Independence Day will be the first legally recognized as a state holiday.
First Taxing District Commissioner Jalin Sead and Common Council member Greg Burnett (D-At Large) organized Saturday’s celebration on the town green, said First Taxing District Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Elsa Peterson Obuchowski. Last year’s event was held at the South Norwalk branch library and this year, vendors were added to the observance.
Updated, 5:25 a.m. Tuesday: More photographs.
Maya Spruill’s pack of kids: from left, Logan, Jeremiah and Kailanna. (John Levin)
Siblings Ava Rose Thompson, 6, and Aaron Thompson Jr., dance with their with Norwalk-born mother, Sharmane Morgan, Saturday on the town green. (John Levin)
Joe Thompson (aka Joe Grit$), speaking and rapping, Saturday on the town green. Grit$, a Bridgeport resident, grew up in Norwalk. (John Levin)
Saturday on the town green. (Nancy Chapman)
Event organizers WPKN radio host Tony “Doc” Hardy from Bridgeport and Jalin Sead from Norwalk. (John Levin)
Norwalk Branch NAACP President Brenda Penn-Williams, Saturday on the town green. (Nancy Chapman)
Saturday on the town green. (John Levin)
At right in front is Common Council member Diana Révolus (D-District B) with a friend, a New York City teacher, at Révolus’ booth for her ceramic arts education business Ase Kreationz. In rear are rising Brien McMahon juniors and Ase Kreationz students and staff members DeShaun Small, Josh Legere, and Donte Cobbs. (John Levin)
Saturday on the town green. (Nancy Chapman)
Norwalk artist Joann Claybourne. (John Levin)
Byron Troy of Steeling Roses shows off his art, Saturday on the town green. (Nancy Chapman)
Norwalker Darius Williams with friends from Stamford, Maya Spruill (center) and Promise Green. (John Levin)
Khanisha Denise Moore of Norwalk sings the first verse of “Lift Every Voice And Sing.” (John Levin)
State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) with his dog Molly, chatting with Joe Thompson (aka Joe Grit$) and Kadeem Roberts, Saturday on the town green. (Nancy Chapman)
From left, Norwalkers Nola Brim, Brittany Brim and Rachel Atkinson. (John Levin)
Bria and Chris. (John Levin)