The Stratford community celebrated Juneteenth today ahead of the holiday Sunday, which marked the end of slavery in the United States.
The federal holiday is observed annually on June 19, in honor of the day in 1865, which marks the day Texas slaves were freed two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
The ceremony took place on the steps of City Hall and included a flag raising.
The event also included remarks from Jeffrey Fletcher, founder of the Stratford African American History Museum, as well as Deborah Caviness, from the Southern Connecticut Black Chamber of Commerce.
Juneteenth co-founder Cynthia Griffin and Dr. William B. Sutton, III, pastor of First Baptist Church in Stratford, also spoke.
Governor Ned Lamont signed a bill that would make Juneteenth a legal holiday in Connecticut as well.
Dr. Camelia Lawrence is the Grand Marshal for this year’s Fairfield County June 19 Parade.
She says her efforts to raise awareness of the Connecticut vacation go far beyond today.
Lawrence says the Juneteenth of Fairfield County nonprofit has been around for 30 years.
“The goal of the organization is to really support and embrace a vibrant African-American community from an economic perspective as well,” Lawrence said.