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Juneteenth 2023_event image

Celebrating Juneteenth

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Though the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863, it took two and a half years for slaves in the state of Texas to be told of their freedom. Juneteenth is the celebration of the day when all enslaved individuals became aware of their freedom.

This year we’re celebrating Juneteenth all weekend long. Read on for a look at some of the events happening throughout the community and join us as we celebrate freedom.

2023 Weekend Schedule


12:00PM – at the Keene Family YMCA
The Freedom Journey Trail opens for self-guided tours
Take a walk through history on the YMCA grounds to learn about important historical events that have shaped the ongoing freedom struggle of Black Americans. The trail will remain open through Friday, June 23rd.


7:00PM – at Brewbakers | 48 Emerald Street, Keene
W.S. Badger presents “Black Cowboys”
A presentation by Zaron Burnett III, creator and host of the Black Cowboys podcast (available wherever you get your podcasts). Seating is limited. Registration is required for this free event. Click here to learn more and to register.


11AM-2PM – at Local Burger | 82 Main Street, Downtown Keene
Juneteenth Celebration

A free commnity event organized by the City of Keene’s Human Rights Committee and featuring exhibitors, musical performances by the Gaslight Tinkers, the Alex Minasian Trio, and more.

Tentative Event Schedule:

  • 11:00am – Welcome by Kris Roberts, City Counselor
  • 11:15am-12:00pm – Musical Performance: The Gaslight Tinkers
  • 12:00pm-12:15pm – Speaker: Zaron Burnett
  • 12:15-1:00pm – Musical Performance: Alex Minasian Trio
  • 1:00-1:15pm – Speaker: Joseph Lascaze, NH native and Campaign Manager for the ACLU’s Smart Justice Campaign
  • 1:15pm-1:45pm – TBD
  • 1:45pm-2:00pm – Speaker: Gail Somers, local entrepreneur and community organizer

1:30-2:45PM – at Keene Public Library | Huntress Auditorium
Kid Flicks: Celebrating Black Stories
Black stories take the spotlight to highlight films that share the joy, determination, resilience, and complexity of being Black and young. Explore a range of genres and styles in a program that spans the globe. Run time: 76 minutes | Recommended ages 9+. Seating is limited and registration is required for this free event. Click here to learn more and to register. 

6:30PM – at Keene State College | Parker Hall – Drenan Auditorium
Buck and the Preacher
A screening of the newly restored 1972 film directed by Sidney Poitier. This film helped rewrite the history of the western, bringing Black heroes to a genre in which they had been sorely underrepresented. Seating is limited. Registration is required for this free event. Click here to learn more and to register.


1:00PM-2:00PM – Keene Public Library – Cohen Hall
Terrific Tuesday: Hip Hop with Edwin Owusu
Edwin Owusu is a hip hop and Afrobeats artist who currently lives and works out of Burlington, VT. He performed in 2021 and 2022 as part of Keene’s Juneteenth Celebration, and we’re excited to welcome him back this year to again amuse you with his stories of the African diaspora and and amaze you with his hip hop skills! This event is part of the Keene Public Library’s Terrific Tuesday event series and is geared towards school-age children. 

Registration is required for this free event. Click here to register.

Zaron Burnett III_headshot

Zaron Burnett speaks about the real history of America's West

It’s said that 1-in-4 cowboys were Black. Try to picture that. We rarely get a chance to. But the truth of the matter is, Black cowboys led lives of high adventure, days punctuated with shootouts, daring escapes from posses, and from Spanish fortresses, nights spent in smoky saloons with showgirls, or somewhere out underneath a ceiling of stars, the earth their bed. It’s high time we tell their stories. And do so with a gusto and liveliness they’d appreciate. Through their stories we can explore and experience a far larger story of America, a more honest and impressive narrative of our country and its people, as seen through the lens of the Black cowboy. Their path helped lead us to this moment. Come along and take a trip down this rarely-traveled path with our host, Zaron Burnett, the writer and creator of the podcast, Black Cowboys.

Local Burger storefront-downtown Keene, NH

Save some $ on lunch

Our friends at Local Burger are offering attendees of the Juneteenth Celebration at Railroad Square on Saturday, June 17th a coupon for $5.00 off with a purchase of $5.00 or more.* And for every coupon redeemed, they will donate $5.00 back to support the event! Be sure to stop by the YMCA tent during the event to get your coupon and save a few bucks on lunch. 

*Coupons are valid on Saturday, June 17th only. 

2023 Event Sponsors

Badger Balm_logo
City of Keene_logo
Savings Bank of Walpole
Keene Public Library logo
Monadnock Food Co-op logo
Keene State College logo
Brewbaker's Cafe logo
New York International Children's Film Festival logo
Antioch University logo

Continue the Journey

Keene Family YMCA seeks to be welcoming and inclusive without exception, and is steadfastly committed to supporting, highlighting, and celebrating diversity in our community year-round. Everyone is welcome at the Y. 

To advance equity, we must evaluate and dismantle the barriers to opportunities, access and resources that have prevented the full participation of some groups and develop relevant solutions and support systems.

The first step is awareness. Here we’re providing you with some actions you can take to continue learning and to support national efforts to break down the barriers that have been contributing to the inequity that continues to plague our society. We hope you’ll find these resources helpful in furthering your understanding of the movement.  

Join us!

Interested in becoming a YMCA Diversity Ambassador? Complete the form and we’ll be in touch!

Racial Justice & Community Safety Committee Report
City of Keene, New Hampshire, March 18, 2021

“Does systemic racism exist in NH?”
by Dan and Sindiso Mnisi Weeks
NH Business Review, May 30, 2021

“Inequality at school – What’s behind the racial disparity in our education system?”
by Kirsten Weir
American Psychological Association, November 2016, Vol 47, No. 10

Institutional Racism in the Health Care System
AAFP, Policies

Racism in healthcare: What you need to know
Medical News Today

Racism and discrimination in health care: Providers and patients
Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Health Blog

Institutional Racism and Health Care for Minorities
by Sharon Liao, WebMD

What is systemic racism?
by Kate Slater,

Anti-racist Roadmap
by Kate Slater

The Tapestry of Black Business Ownership in America
a publication of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO)

Continuum on Becoming an Anti-Racist Multicultural Organization
Crossroads Ministry, Chicago, IL

Racism has a cost for everyone
TED Talk by Heather C. McGhee

How Structural Racism Works – Racist Policies as Root Cause of U.S. Racial Health Inequities
The New England Journal of Medicine, February 25, 2021
by Zinzi D. Bailey, Sc.D., M.S.P.H., Justin M. Feldman, Sc.D., and Mary T. Bassett, M.D., M.P.H.

7 myths about “defunding the police” debunked
by Howard Henderson and Ben Yisrael
Brookings, May 19, 2021

From Privilege to Progress
A national movement to desegregate the conversation about race and racism started by Melissa DePino and Michelle Saahene

Two Distant Strangers
In this Oscar-winning short film, a man trying to get home to his dog becomes stuck in a time loop that forces him to relive a deadly run-in with a police officer.

Ending the War on Drugs: By the Numbers
by Betsy Pearl, June 27, 2018

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You
by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

How to Be an Antiracist
by Ibram X. Kendi

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
by Robin DiAngelo

Introduction to InShape – a program by Ken Jue

Celebrating 10 African American Medical Pioneers
by Julia Haskins, Special to AAMCNews


Race, not racism, dictates health outcomes.


"For decades, scientists have demonstrated that experiencing racial discrimination produces a raft of negative health effects such as elevated blood pressure, hypertension, and early aging through a process known as weathering." --Dan and Sindiso Mnisi Weeks
Learn More


We all carry similar mental health burdens.


People of color, and all who have been marginalized experience life differently than those who have not been devalued... Racism is a mental health issue because racism causes trauma.
Learn More


All police are racist and "Defund" means "Abolish."


"Contemporary U.S. policing has roots in slave patrols, which were first established in 18th-century colonial Virginia in an effort to capture runaways and quell uprisings." --Bailey, Feldman, and Bassett
Learn More


"Natural Neighborhoods" exist because people choose to live in them rather than laws and policies creating them.


"While [approximately 1.2 million] Black servicemen fought in World War II, the benefits afforded under the GI Bill were not extended to them." --Kate Slater
Learn More


Educational resources are equally distributed across schools.


"According to the NH Department of Education, spending per pupil in Manchester, where the majority of African American students reside, is just 74 cents for every dollar of per pupil spending statewide." --Dan and Sindiso Mnisi Weeks
Learn More


The gap in wealth between Blacks and whites in America would be overcome if Blacks just made better financial decisions and got their act together.


"...national data clearly shows that workers of color earn less than their colleagues of European descent with the same job and qualifications and are less likely to be promoted." --Dan and Sindiso Mnisi Weeks
Learn More


All women, at some point in their lives, experience similar beauty and body-image insecurities.


African American women carry the additional insecurities and emotional burden of negative biases against the images of Black beauty rooted in the institution of slavery.
Learn More
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