For the first time, Bayonne celebrates Juneteenth with flag raising preceded by parade

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The community organization Black in Bayonne led a parade to City Hall where the Black Nationalism flag was raised for the second time in the city’s history to observe Juneteenth.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

After clearing the House this week, Juneteenth is a newly recognized federal holiday to acknowledge that on June 19, 1865, at the end of the Civil War, Union troops reached Galveston, Texas and the last slaves were freed.

A diverse crowd marched down Avenue C in Bayonne with a police escort starting from the corner of Avenue C and 19th Street, with the group exclaiming “I’m Black and I’m proud!”

Black in Bayonne, one of the main event organizers, was formed last year by Camille High, Clarice High, Shaniqua Borders, and Rashad Calloway in the wake of George Floyd’s murder last June.

“A year later, a year later, we stand before you, motivated, determined, and equipped to do the work necessary to create a Bayonne where black people thrive, not just survive,” Black in Bayonne President Camille High said.

“Wherever the people is, there is power: Power to the people!”

She hoped Juneteenth would continue to be publicly celebrated for many generations.

“We must hold the powers that be accountable for their actions. We must exercise our right to vote,” High said to cheers from the crowd.

“If you are registered to vote, you need to vote. You need to get off Facebook and complaining, and do the work that is necessary! We would like you to speak up and against all social injustice of any kind. That is your job as a human being here on Earth.”

Additionally, there was a moment of silence for the late Rev. Gene Sykes and Edith Ferrel who High cited as a strong supporter of their efforts, since the parade started on a block renamed after her.

Dave Watson, the first African American elected to the board of education, DJ’ed and played “Lift Every Voice and Sing” on the saxophone as the flag was raised.

“When I was in the 7th grade he [his father] gave me a liberation button to wear to school, which I did and my principal and my teachers had a hissy fit. Now, I knew the knowledge of what it meant so they couldn’t bother me. Secondly, Edith Farrell and Black in Bayonne were instrumental in pushing me to run for the Bayonne Board of Education.”

Mayor Jimmy Davis, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31), and all five city council members raised the flag along with Black in Bayonne leaders at City Hall after the march and program was completed.