The Museum commemorates this important day on Saturday, June 18, with an outdoor festival inspired by Harriet Tubman featuring performers, artists, and dancers from the Black community across New Jersey. I invite you to join us at the Museum from Noon to 5pm to honor this historic holiday.

During the celebrations, Jacari Harris, Executive Director of the George Floyd Foundation, will address the general progress of the Black community, offering inspiring words in the context of activism and equity. We’d love to have you join us for a day filled with festivities, such as step workshops, arts and crafts, delicious food from local vendors, and more!

In addition, we encourage visitors to become part of the creation of Newark’s Harriet Tubman Monument in Washington Park by decorating ceramic tiles with your own stories of freedom and liberation (please note there will be limited availability, so come early!). After the event, the ceramic tiles will be kiln-fired and become permanent additions to the final design of the monument. Together, we will create a lasting piece of public art that centers on community and raises awareness of the continued inequities of our world.

Rendering of future Harriet Tubman Monument

While it’s only recently been recognized as a federal holiday, Juneteenth originated in Galveston, Texas and has been celebrated by communities across the U.S. since 1865. Often, we are led to believe that the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution abolished slavery and “involuntary servitude,” or forced labor, but a close read of the text shows otherwise. The 13th Amendment, as well as many state constitutions, contains an opportunity, a loophole rather, that makes compulsory labor legal as punishment for a crime.

Forcing one person to work for the benefit of another—especially when applied disproportionately to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities—does not create an authentic pathway of restitution for victims of crime or rehabilitation for prisoners. As culture advocates for equity, we are committed to dignity for all people, and stand against slavery in its many guises.

An issue of this magnitude invites the active participation of the whole community and has a place for everyone, including you. Stand with grace, stand with justice, stand for all.

Standing with you,

Linda C. Harrison
Director and CEO
The Newark Museum of Art