The bill to make Juneteenth a national holiday is a salve for a wounded nation and a balm for the national soul. It seeks to codify into law what has already come to pass in many places, including Irvington, where Juneteenth celebrations have recently been embraced. Juneteenth, a celebration of African American Arts and Culture, was brand new to the village of Irvington last year, as well as to many of us at church, myself included. As a fledgling event, organized on very short notice by Kelli Scott and sponsored by St. Barnabas, it more than fulfilled its promise and purpose. It struck a chord with the Village Trustees, who made it an annual celebration in the village; and it rang true for the vestry, for our young people and for members of our congregation in search of a salve and balm at a time of national protest, trauma and loss.

The organization and sponsorship of the Second Annual Juneteenth Celebration has been embraced by a broad constituency, including the Juneteenth Planning Committee, the PTSA Diversity & Inclusion Committee, Irvington Activists, Commemorate, Historic Hudson Valley, ArtsWestchester and again by our own church. It promises to be a fantastic event with live music by Nkumu Katalay and the “Life Long Project” Band, African dancers, Afro-Caribbean food trucks, artisans and their various wares. The event will also include a moderated panel discussion about the legacies of slavery, speeches by state and local elected officials, an invocation by yours truly and a talk by award-winning, Yonkers-based artist Vinnie Bagwell.

I look forward to seeing many of you there as we lend our spiritual and practical support to this life-giving commemorative celebration. May it be but a foretaste of the longed-for hope and commonly held desire for racial equity and justice for all.

Onward in the Spirit,