Friday, June 19, 2020

Observing Juneteenth

Today is Juneteenth, commemorating June 19, 1865, the day when General Gordon Granger of the Union Army went to Gavelston, Texas, to announce, more than two months after the Civil War had ended, that the 250,000 African Americans still enslaved in Texas were in fact free and had been free for two and a half years, ever since the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863. Although Juneteenth has been celebrated for 155 years, it is getting much more attention this year amid international demands to end systemic racism. Here are two ways to observe Juneteenth in Columbia County.

At noon today, Friday, June 19, there is to be a gathering to mark the day in the Kinderhook Village Square. Yesterday in Kinderhook, the Black Lives Matter rally had to compete with Back the Blue protesters, and organizers of today's Juneteenth gathering are cautioning that the same thing could happen today. Participants in the Juneteenth observance are urged to wear masks, social distance, and be respectful.

Tomorrow, on Saturday, June 20, at 4:00 p.m., there will be a Juneteenth Freedom March on the Hudson River Skywalk between Catskill and Hudson, celebrating black liberation and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. The press release announcing the Freedom March explains:
The Hudson and Catskill communities are to come together and march in support of Black lives. On Saturday, June 20, everyone is advised to gather either on the Hudson side at the Skywalk Park or the Catskill side next to the Bridge Authority Toll Booths. After opening rallies, each side will begin the march from each side of the skywalk, meeting in the middle to form a human bridge, symbolizing our unity. The march will continue on to the Catskill side with a closing rally in the park. Overflow Hudson-side parking will be provided in the Columbia Greene Community College Upper Parking Lot. There will be a pedestrian lane secured from the college parking area to the Skywalk Park next to the roundabout. Additional parking (for drivers from the south) will be available at Olana State Historic Site in the Lower Olana Farm Parking Lot A (not up at the main Olana building) and participants can walk the shaded Skywalk trail from Olana to the roundabout. Parking is limited and carpooling is strongly encouraged.
Face masks and social distancing will be required of all participants. The march will take place only on the Skywalk pedestrian walkway of the bridge and not on the vehicle lanes of the bridge. This is a peaceful march and permission has been granted by proper authorities. 
It is anticipated the event, which begins at 4:00 p.m., may continue until 8 p.m.


  1. Social distancing in a confined space (the bridge) is well nigh impossible. This should be interesting. Hope everyone wears masks.

  2. At least it will be outdoors and there's a lot of wind there. That will cut down the risk.