Celebrating Juneteenth 2020

The June program page has information on the status of Trails of History sites and lists some virtual programs. It also contains a full list of links to Trails of History Facebook pages so that you can continue to enjoy our digital offerings. You'll also find some of those offerings in the Trailheads Rec Room (see links in the sidebar to the right of your screen). 

On June 19, 1865, Union troops reached Galveston, Texas, ending Confederate control and bringing the Emancipation Proclamation into effect, ending slavery for nearly 250,000 enslaved Black people in Texas. Juneteenth was celebrated by these newly freed Texans to mark the end of slavery in the U.S. and, over 150 years later, continues as a celebration of freedom. In 2019, Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation making Juneteenth a state holiday in Pennsylvania (see this year's statement from the Governor's office).

Brick manor house and white clapboard outbuildings are seen through trees
The Manor House (left) and outbuildings as seen from the nature trail at Pennsbury Manor (photo by Lynsey Lehr via Facebook)

Juneteenth on the Trails of History

As with just about everything else related to history and museums these days, Juneteenth 2020 celebrations are happening online, most scheduled for today and the rest of the weekend. Pennsbury Manor and the African American Museum of Bucks County (AAMBC) had planned an on-site program to mark the occasion, but have turned to Zoom to offer a virtual event this afternoon at 4 pm. For more than 20 years, staff has been researching and interpreting the presence of enslaved Black people at Pennsbury. Earlier this year, with a grant from the Living History Centre in Novato, California, Pennsbury staff began working with Philadelphia-area playwright and performer Marissa Kennedy to develop and present a first-person interpretation of Susannah Warder. Kennedy's presentation is designed to engage school students (and others) with Warder as she tends to the laundry and talks about life as an enslaved person at Pennsbury. Marissa Kennedy will present this new interpretation as part of the Juneteenth virtual event. The program, which features other historical presentations from AAMBC and Pennsbury, will take place live via Zoom (see Facebook event for details) and will also be recorded for later viewing.

Four white-cast figures in museum exhibit arranged around a table with a drying rack behind. One man carries wooden buckets using a yoke across the back of his neck.
This laundry scene from the visitor center exhibit at Pennsbury tells the story of Jack (enslaved at Pennsbury) and his wife, Parthenia (enslaved in Philadelphia). Pennsbury's museum educator, Mary Ellyn Kunz, worked with Historic Hudson Valley (HHV) on an emotionally powerful video portrayal of Jack and Parthenia's story, which you can (and should) watch on HHV's website
On the Pennsylvania Military Museum's blog today, site administrator Tyler Gum shares stories of the U.S. Colored Troop (USCT) during the American Civil War, with a focus on soldiers with Pennsylvania connections. (Find the full blog post on PMM's website.)
"In 1863 General Orders 143 established the US Colored Troop. By this time, there existed two units, however this Order made such service officially recognized. Pennsylvania brought forth eleven USCT units, using Camp William Penn as the training grounds. Camp William Penn was located in Cheltenham Township (near Philadelphia) from 1863 to 1865. Pictured [below] is the PHMC Historical Marker and original camp gate. This Camp is most notable for being the first such designated camp for USCT in the Army. It is reported that more than 10,000 free and escaped enslaved men trained here. This figure includes 8,612 Pennsylvanians – the most of any Northern State."

Two stone pillars with a wrought iron gate between them. A blue and gold state historical marker stands to the right.
This gate marks the entrance to Camp William Penn with PHMC historical marker to the right (marker text and more info)

More Juneteenth Virtual Celebrations and Online Resources


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