Bedford Observes Juneteenth

Erin Dorr and her son Tate, examining the memorial to Bedford slaves who served in the American Revolution


A memorial gathering on the morning of Juneteenth, 2020, in the Old Burying Ground, Bedford Massachusetts – Click the image to see it at full size.

At the behest of First Parishioner Dorothy Africa, a small group gathered on Bedford Common to observe Juneteenth, on Friday morning, June 19 marking the 155th anniversary of the announcement of the end of slavery to the citizens of Galveston, TX.

The Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863 but the word took that long to reach Texas, to the benefit of local slaveholders.


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Tolling the bell at First Parish on Bedford Common on Juneteenth, 2020 – Click this image to see it at full size

First Parish’s bell tolled 13 times at 10 am, to honor the 13th Amendment and the enslaved and freed Black Bedfordians interred at Bedford’s Old Burying Ground on Springs Road.

The group walked in silence from Bedford’s historic meeting house to Springs Road where they left a ribbon on the Black Slaves’ monument to commemorate Juneteenth.

Melinda Ballou intends to lead another socially-distancing group from the Common to the Old Burying Ground shortly after 7 pm tonight. The group will observe 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence to honor George Floyd.

Ballou noted a basic misunderstanding in the significance of Juneteenth according to The New Yorker of June 19, 2020, “The fact that slaveholders extracted thirty additional months of uncompensated labor from people who had been bought, sold, and worked to exhaustion, like livestock, throughout their lives is cause for mourning, not celebration. In honoring that moment, we should recognize a moral at the heart of that day in Galveston and in the entirety of American life: there is a vast chasm between the concept of freedom inscribed on paper and the reality of freedom in our lives. In that regard, Juneteenth exists as a counterpoint to the Fourth of July; the latter heralds the arrival of American ideals, the former stresses just how hard it has been to live up to them.”

An Ode to Moore, Prescott, and Jones

Composed in 1976 by Bedford’s first METCO Director Irene P. Parker, An Ode to Moore, Prescott, and Jones was read at both ceremonies.

In the Revolutionary Battle of seventeen seventy-five
Caesar Jones, Caesar Prescott, and Cambridge Moore were alive
Fighting for freedom, respect, and honor
Proud Black men who gave their lives with valor.

We know little of Moore, Prescott, and Jones
Their history and lives are interred with their bones
To remember them today is a small token of love
For men who have died and gone home above.


Lift Every Voice and Sing, the Dan Perry Quartet in a Facebook video


Google’s 2020 Juneteeth Video

About Google’s 2020 Juneteenth Video


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