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Berkshire NAACP Chapter Head Wants To See Juneteenth Celebrated Nationally

A black man with a face mask on, a hat, and an NAACP sign kneels in a sun-dappled grassy park surrounded by other masked people
Josh Landes
Berkshire NAACP Chapter President Dennis Powell, taking a knee against police brutality in downtown Pittsfield, Massachusetts on May 30th, 2020

The head of the Berkshire County Chapter of the NAACP wants to see Juneteenth celebrated as a national holiday.

The day unofficially commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, and dates back to 1866 – just a year after Union General Gordon Granger read out federal orders freeing enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, on June 19th, 1865. Dennis Powell says Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom that should be recognized nationwide.

“It continues to remind all of us of an unfortunate time in our history – slavery – and to be free when we should have been free at birth,” he told WAMC.

On Wednesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order recognizing Juneteenth as an official holiday for state employees. The same day, two Democratic Massachusetts State Representatives filed legislation to have the commonwealth officially recognize the holiday.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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