Ewing Township Holds First Juneteenth Flag Raising Event

Ewing Township, located in Mercer County, New Jersey, proudly commemorated its inaugural Juneteenth flag-raising ceremony today at the Ewing Township Municipal Building. This momentous occasion signifies Ewing’s dedication to acknowledging the historical and cultural significance of Juneteenth, as well as its commitment to fostering a more inclusive and equitable community. Spearheaded by Mayor Bert H. Steinmann, the ceremony featured compelling and heartfelt speeches from distinguished guest speakers Beverly Mills and Elaine Buck, renowned historians, authors, and community advocates known for their extensive efforts in uncovering and preserving African American history in the state of New Jersey.

Mills and Buck, co-authors of the acclaimed book “If These Stones Could Talk” and co-founders of the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM), shared profound insights gleaned from their research, which intricately traced the lineage of their enslaved ancestors in the region and honored their names. Mayor Steinmann articulated the significance of the event, stating, “This day holds great importance for Ewing Township, a community renowned for its diversity, with nearly a third of its residents identifying as Black or African American. It is a privilege to lead such a culturally dynamic community and to recognize the invaluable contributions of our residents. Juneteenth symbolizes not only a celebration of freedom but also a testament to the resilience, strength, and enduring legacy of African Americans throughout our nation’s history. Let us continue to learn from the past, commemorate our progress, and strive towards a future of greater equity and unity for all.”

The ceremony commenced with a poignant invocation delivered by Pastor Tyrone Perkins of Central Church, setting a contemplative tone for the event and reminding attendees of the trials faced by those who awaited news of emancipation in Galveston, Texas. Council President Kevin Baxter shared personal anecdotes of his ancestors’ struggles as sharecroppers, emphasizing the fragility of their livelihoods and the importance of acknowledging the past. President Baxter elucidated the symbolism behind the Juneteenth Freedom flag and encouraged residents of Ewing to embrace compassion and empathy towards one another.

In attendance were Councilwoman Sarah Steward and Mercer County Commissioner Terrance Stokes, both residents of Ewing, demonstrating the unified support of local government officials in commemorating this historic occasion. Representatives from the Ewing Historic Preservation Society, Becky Urban, and Joann Durham, were present to unveil a new permanent exhibit at the Benjamin Temple House titled “Blacks in Ewing, from Slavery to the Civil War,” shedding light on New Jersey’s status as the last northern state to abolish slavery entirely.

Juneteenth, observed annually on June 19th, marks the day in 1865 when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, were finally informed of the Emancipation Proclamation, signifying the official end of slavery in the United States. The flag-raising ceremony in Ewing serves as a poignant reminder of this historic milestone and a celebration of the enduring spirit of freedom and resilience. Mayor Bert H. Steinmann presided over the event as the master of ceremonies, underscoring the significance of this momentous occasion.

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