Somerset County Juneteenth Celebration Announced

Posted on June 10, 2021

For the first time ever, the Somerset County Board of Commissioners will commemorate Juneteenth at a festive event on June 17, from 6 to 7 p.m., on the county’s historic courthouse green located at 20 North Bridge St., Somerville. Attending this celebration, will be honored guest Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, elected county officials, the founders of the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM), a local poet, and the Somerset County Youth Council. At this historic event, the public will hear the story of emancipation, resilience and brilliance told by experts and through performance artistry.

“We are excited and honored to have the Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver attend Somerset County’s first commemoration of Juneteenth,” said Commissioner Director Shanel Y. Robinson. “I encourage everyone to come to this first-time celebration to have some fun while gaining a historic perspective and better understanding of Juneteenth.”

Commissioner Director Shanel Robinson will commence the event with a brief speech, followed by performances to include singer Gia Ware’s rendition of an original song by Sam Cooke, a dramatic skit about the history of Juneteenth, a reading of an original poem by a local artist, a performance about the historical significance of the Juneteenth flag, and a dramatic reading of a letter written by renowned essayist, playwright, novelist, and activist James Baldwin.

Founders of the SSAAM will also discuss hidden stories of two African American soldiers from New Jersey who were present for Juneteenth, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver will deliver a keynote address, and the event will conclude when Somerset County Commissioner Deputy Director Sara Sooy speaks on the importance of Juneteenth.

For more information about the Somerset County Juneteenth event, visit

On September 10, 2020, Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation declaring Juneteenth a state and public holiday. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger rode to Galveston, Texas and informed enslaved people of their freedom as stated by the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.

Source: Somerset County Office of Planning