Peekskill Celebrates 150th Anniversary of Juneteenth!

Juneteenth Celebrates The Oldest Commemoration Of The End Of Slavery.

Peekskill, NY — Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery. It is the day, June 19, 1865 when the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that all slaves were now free. This event occurred more than two and a half years after the date of January 1, 1863 when the Emancipation Proclamation had become official. Juneteenth, also known as “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day”, is a holiday created by Black people in the United States to honor, and celebrate African-American ancestry, history, achievements, and struggles. Juneteenth is now recognized as a state holiday or state holiday observance in 43 states as well as the District of Columbia.
In celebration of this event, the Peekskill Juneteenth Heritage Committee, with support from the City of Peekskill, will host its Fifth Annual Juneteenth Parade on Saturday, June 20, 2015. And for this year’s parade the committee has named three trailblazers as their Grand Marshals: Gloria Pinkney, Jerry Pinkney, and James Taylor.

The parade will start at 2pm and will be preceded by a short ceremony at Park Street African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church at 1:30 pm. The parade will kick off on Park Street in front of the church, and end at the corner of South and Smith Streets.

At Peekskill’s Riverfront Green Park, beginning at 11AM, there will be a variety and diversity, of food vendors, as well as crafts, clothing and artifacts representative of African, African-American, Caribbean, and American culture. From 4pm to 8pm, there will be an extensive entertainment lineup of Gospel, Jazz, Hip Hop music, dance, and poetry which will be performed on the Peekskill Show Mobile stage. The evening’s dance music will be provided by SOUL FUSION, a local Peekskill R & B band. Soul Fusion merges diverse musical talents into a band that covers a range of soulful music. They will take you on a musical journey ranging from old school classics to more contemporary hits.

Underground Railroad Tours will be offered by LaFern Joseph, leaving from The Fern Tree at 13 South Division Street in downtown Peekskill.

This 150th Anniversary of the Commemoration of Juneteenth is a joyous celebration because it reminds us that “Victory Is Possible”.

Admission to the Park is Free, so come out and show your support for this historic event.
It is very important that as a community we celebrate African-American emancipation from slavery, and recognize our three trailblazers. “We salute their successes and honor their exemplary achievements”, said a former mayor of Peekskill.

Jerry Pinkney is an author, illustrator, and artist. Since 1964 he has illustrated over 100 children’s books and 14 novels, authored the re-telling of several beloved stories, and received over 100 awards and honors for his work. These awards include a Caldecott Medal, five Caldecott Honor Medals, five Coretta Scott King Awards, and four Coretta Scott King Honor Awards. Jerry Pinkney is one of the most heralded children’s book illustrators of all times.
Growing up in Philadelphia, Pinkney fought through the difficulties associated with dyslexia and graduated from school with honors and then went on to attend the Philadelphia Museum College of Art on a full scholarship. He continues to write, illustrate, and paint.
Gloria Jean Pinkney was born in Lumberton, North Carolina. While attending high school in Philadelphia, she met her husband, Jerry Pinkney who attributes much of his success to her long-standing involvement in his work. Over the years, she has collaborated with Jerry in making quality books for children. However, Gloria is an author in her own right and has produced several of her own books. Her early years of growing up in North Carolina and Philadelphia provided her with the inspiration to write two of her critically acclaimed children’s books: Back Home, and The Sunday Outing. Her book, In the Forest of your Remembrance, provides us with a glimpse into her deeply sensitive, spiritual and religious nature and shows how she came to recognize the many miraculous events in her life.
The Pinkney’s are a remarkable family of artists and writers who are committed to telling stories that celebrate the human spirit. Their many acclaimed children’s books and adult books provide a creative, honest, wholesome, and inspirational representation of the beloved tales, history, achievements, life/ family experiences, and struggles of African-American people.
James Taylor is a retired principal of the Peekskill City School District. He is also a retired Captain with the New York Guard having served as commander and search and rescue specialist with the 56th Brigade stationed at the Peekskill Armory.
Presently, Jim is a member of the African-American Advisory Board for Historic Hudson Valley. Jim has been able to tell the story of slavery in the Colonial Hudson Valley by working as a part-time historic interpreter portraying an enslaved cooper at Phillipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, and traveling to area schools and events performing his “Bucket Full of History” program.
In addition, James Taylor founded and supervises a boat building program for high school students sponsored by the City of Peekskill Youth Bureau, called Peekskill Boatworks. The participants have built several 14-foot boats. The program instills a sense of pride and self-worth, and it provides hands-on experiences that incorporates math, technology, environmental sciences, and ecology studies.