Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration that commemorates the abolition of slavery in the United States and the emancipation of enslaved African Americans throughout the former Confederate States of America. The historic event took place June 19, 1865.
The MetroHartford Alliance learned more about how the city of Hartford commemorates Juneteenth from Olivia White, Former Executive Director of the Amistad Center for Art and Culture; Andréa Comer, co-chair of the Juneteenth event; and Andréa Hawkins, Board of Trustees President at the Amistad Center (pictured with Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art Former President John Motley, photo courtesy Amy Ellis, Hartford Courant).
CAN YOU PROVIDE A LITTLE BACKGROUND ABOUT THE AMISTAD CENTER?
OLIVIA WHITE: Established in 1987, The Amistad Center for Art and Culture is a “museum within a museum.” Located in the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, The Amistad Center has a collection of more than 7,000 works of art and artifacts that document the entire arc of African American history. Through education programs, exhibitions, scholarship, and social experiences we celebrate art and culture of people of African descent.
HOW DOES HARTFORD CELEBRATE AND HONOR JUNETEENTH?
ANDRÉA HAWKINS: The Amistad Center’s Juneteenth Celebration included a free family day “Strength in the Community” on June 8 Family day that offered kid-friendly, culture-based education and entertainment and helps encourage awareness of an important aspect of American history.
The Juneteenth gala, which takes place Friday, June 14 at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, is a celebration honoring community and the work for freedom that sustains it.
TELL US ABOUT THE ARTIST HONOREES AND WHY THEY WERE CHOSEN.
ANDRÉA COMER: Our artist honorees are a father/daughter duo Ellis and Mina Echevarria. Both are Hartford natives and have had a longstanding relationship with The Amistad Center for Art and Culture.
Ellis Echevarria has more than 35 years of art, design, and creative direction. His strong concepts and outstanding creations have won local, national, and international acclaim and awards. Mina is a graduate of the University of Hartford and a very talented emerging artist. She participated in several education and enrichment programs through her high school career and has selflessly donated to The Amistad Center.
HOW DID STANLEY BLACK & DECKER BECOME A CORPORATE HONOREE FOR THE JUNETEENTH GALA EVENT?
ANDRÉA COMER: Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom and a moment in history that affirms the complexity of the Black experience. Stanley Black & Decker understands the power of diverse experiences and voices and has incorporated that understanding into its mission through investment in Hartford and intentionality in workforce development. So, it just made sense that they be recognized for their efforts at our gala.
ARE THERE ADDITIONAL CORPORATE SPONSORS?
OLIVIA WHITE: Yes, Stanley Black & Decker is the North Star premier sponsor. Other corporate sponsors include:
Barnes Group, Inc.
The Hartford (sponsors Juneteenth Family Day)
Pratt & Whitney
Robinson & Cole
Trinity Health of New England
HOW WAS THE THEME FOR THIS YEAR’S JUNETEENTH GALA CHOSEN?
ANDRÉA HAWKINS: This year’s theme, An Afropolitan Night, Celebrating Juneteenth with Style, references the African origins of those who were enslaved and learned of their freedom on “Juneteenth” as well as more contemporary and urban narrative of Africans in America. The enslaved were denied all aspects of individuality and cultural celebration. Emphasizing dressing up in stylish formal wear, specifically Afrocentric chic, acknowledges one of the freedoms gained with the news of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Learn more about becoming a Juneteenth sponsor or buy tickets to this year’s event.