Juneteenth celebration explores history

Even though the event is now held in the cemetery for the community, Simpkins said it is really about the youth associated with the event and project.

"It gives our youth a sense of history," said Simpkins. "It is the youth that come out every year and clean it up and make it what it is. What we want to do is we want this to be a place they can bring their children back and tell them I planted that tree and make them connected to the city."

The event started off with Moses Viney telling how he came to his burial plot in Schenectady. Simpkins played the role very lively while inciting reflection and laughter hand-in-hand. Besides learning about the history, spiritual songs were song and the drummers provided background beats too.

"I think (the event) is an educational and historical laboratory," said Simpkins. "It gives people a sense of connectedness to the city. Many times they think that African Americans just came maybe from New York City and were transient coming here. This goes to let them know that we've always been here " we've been a part of the fabric of this town."

There was a candle lighting ceremony near the end of the event and an ice cream social to cool down and refresh everyone. Stewarts donated all the ice cream and toppings. Thankfully, there was some bottled water too.

Festivities continued over the weekend in Schenectady's Central Park with food vendors, workshops, arts and crafts for children and other activities. For 10 years Schenectady has held a Juneteenth celebration.""

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