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Juneteenth celebrations: Art, culture, music, dance, food and history

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The Edison, Metuchen and Woodbridge communities held Juneteenth celebrations on June 18.

In Edison, township officials held its inaugural celebration at Papaianni Park. The event featured music, food and local vendors.

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The Metuchen Downtown Alliance along with the Metuchen Human Relations Commission and Metuchen Edison Branch of NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) hosted its second annual celebration with the theme Afro-Futurism.

The downtown featured art focused on Afro-Futurism, a movement in literature, music and featuring futuristic or science fiction themes which incorporate elements of black history and culture.

Attendees learned about the holiday and enjoyed performances from drumline, step-dancer and majorette performers from SoulPhamm United, Steppaz with Attitude and Positive Movement Entertainment from Philadelphia.

Leading up to Juneteenth, the Metuchen downtown featured art focused on Afro-Futurism.

Due to the wind, the showing of “Black is King,” a Beyonce-produced film with a lens on Afro-Futurism, was canceled.

On June 19, Suite Metuchen welcomed a panel of vendors for a Juneteenth pop up shop, which featured Curios by Jess, Black & Golden Natural Oils, We Are Wonderfully Made, Taste of Shay and Luna Lux Collections.

In Woodbridge, Councilman Kyle Anderson with Woodbridge Organization of Neighbors Advocating for Change hosted a celebration on the field behind Woodbridge High School.

Juneteenth is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. Originating in Galveston, Texas, it has been celebrated annually on June 19 in various parts of the United States since 1865.

However, New Jersey didn’t fully recognize the celebration of African American culture until 2021. Previously, on Sept. 10, 2020, Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation that designates the third Friday in June as a state and public holiday, known as Juneteenth (short for June Nineteenth) Day.

In 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, which made Juneteenth an official federal holiday.

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