Flushing councilwoman to host inaugural community Juneteenth celebration

NYC Parks and Flushing Community open new Memorial Plaza
Memorial Plaza at Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

City Councilwoman Sandra Ung, in conjunction with the Old Towne of Flushing Burial Ground Conservancy, will host the first-ever Juneteenth celebration in the community on Saturday, June 17. 

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground located at the intersection of 46th Ave. and 164th St. in Flushing

“This Juneteenth event at Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground will be a first for Flushing,” Ung said. “Not only are we celebrating the significance of this monumental moment in the history of our nation, but we are doing it in a place with a rich and complex connection to the history of African American and Native American people in our borough.”   

The site of the Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground was purchased for use as a public burial ground in 1840. Over 1,000 individuals were buried there, the majority of whom were African American and Native American. The last burial was in 1898, the same year that the City of New York was consolidated.

The event will include exhibits and discussions with local African American artists and quilters. At 11 a.m., members of the conservancy will discuss the archives of the burial ground and the collaboration between Queens College and Queens Memory Project. At noon, the quilters on display will discuss their work, followed by a discussion with the artists at 2 p.m.

At 3 p.m., there will be a discussion about the future of the Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground and its significance to the history of the borough and New York City. A formal ceremony featuring elected officials and other distinguished guests will take place at 1 p.m.

Juneteenth celebrates June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger issued the order to emancipate slaves in Texas. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation over two years earlier in 1863, but its enforcement was predicated on the advancement of Union soldiers. It was recognized as a federal holiday for the first time in 2021. In 2020, Juneteenth was formally recognized as a city and school holiday in New York City.

Additional community sponsors of the Flushing Juneteenth event include Con Edison, Queens Public Library, Queens College, Green Earth Urban Gardens, UA3, Queensboro Hill Civic Association, Indian Diaspora Council, and Long Island Black Artist Association.