AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – The township of Amherst entertained a massive crowd on Sunday afternoon, celebrating the new federal holiday, Juneteenth.
The day commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans here in the United States.
It was truly a diverse group that came to the Town Common to celebrate June 19, the day set by national and state decree. Members of Springfield’s Charles Brace Brigade were there following the appearance of this legendary military unit when the June 19 flag was raised Friday at the Mason Square Veterans Monument in Springfield.
“To me, it’s sincere, because it’s an honor for me and my father’s 58th regiment of union soldiers and we’re doing it as an honor for ourselves, this in honor of me myself and my father,” said Ronald Jeffrey Brace Jr. of The Charles Brace Regiment.
Prior to Sunday’s official observance, there was a tour of historic Amherst places significant to the Civil War, such as Amherst’s role in helping slaves escape from their Southern slavery.
Carlos Pena, owner of Paper City Clothing Company in Holyoke, said: “It’s especially important here in Amherst, one of the Underground Railroad locations, here in Amherst for the Black Underground Railroad, a lot of nostalgia at Amherst.”
Prior to Sunday’s official June 19 observance, many of the rally’s attendees had spent their Saturday visiting historic sites in Amherst that bear witness to the role played by those who, at the time, played an active role on behalf of the ‘abolition of slavery.