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A Joyous Juneteenth in New Bedford

Revelers danced at New Bedford's Juneteenth celebration on Saturday.
Daniel Ackerman
Revelers danced at New Bedford's Juneteenth celebration on Saturday.

Music, food and art highlighted Saturday’s Juneteenth Jubilee in New Bedford. The city’s NAACP Branch and Collective for Change hosted the celebration of Black emancipation.

Seirra, of Collective for Change, helped organize the festivities and was thrilled with the turnout, which included groups of friends, couples and families. “The day has gone way better than we thought, honestly,” said Seirra. “A lot of people showed up. Everybody seems happy. Everybody’s fed. Music, painting and the kids are loving all the games going on. And it's just a great time—smiles and laughs.”

Early in the day, middle school students from Our Sisters’ School participated in a debate over free healthcare—a highlight for Our Sisters’ School alum Janie Correia. “I knew they would win, because I’ve known these girls for a long time and they basically never lose. To be honest, that was my favorite part.”

Now in high school, Correia serves as vice president of the New Bedford NAACP’s Youth Council, and she helped distribute school supplies to kids at the celebration.

Musical groups sang, danced and drummed throughout the festivities, which were held outside the NAACP’s office on Cedar Street.

A blank canvas on one wall invited revelers to paint. Participants colored the wall with rainbows, messages of hope and a portrait of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who settled in New Bedford after escaping slavery.

The ice cream truck was a popular attraction as temperatures rose into the 80’s. Some attendees were content to take in the action from the shade of trees on one side of the yard. Phillip, a New Bedford father of two, said he and his daughters were “just watching people be happy and have fun. It’s been a long year-and-a-half of the pandemic,” he said. “I'm just excited about today and so excited to see people actually be able to smile and take off their masks. So it's just a joyous day.”

Daniel Ackerman has left CAI.
In his time at the station he reported on the South Coast. He came to the station from Minnesota Public Radio, where he reported on science and the environment. Daniel has produced audio documentaries on a motley mix of topics, from the science of sewage to the history of automobile license plates. He holds a PhD in climate change ecology from the University of Minnesota. Daniel was a 2021-22 Report For America corps member.