Newport's 2nd Annual Juneteenth Celebration Takes Place Saturday. What to Expect.

Revolutionary War re-enactors set up camp on the grounds of the Olds Friends Meeting House on the corner of Marlborough Street and Marcus Wheatland Boulevard during Newport's Juneteenth celebration. Provided By Marilyn Moffat.

The celebration will also feature musical performances spanning a host of cultural traditions, including gospel music, colonial music by Bristol Fife and Drum Corps, a traditional dance by Narragansett folk artist Thawn Harris and family, a drum performance by African artist Sidy Maiga. There will also be storytelling by Valerie Tutson of the RI Black Storytellers and a regional historic reenactment.

While RISHM, a statewide organization dedicated to informing the public on the state’s historical connection to the slave trade, has hosted past Juneteenth events in other Rhode Island places connected to the slave trade, such as Bristol and North Kingstown, there’s a few reasons other than the first year’s popularity as to why it is returning to Newport for a second time, Roberts revealed to the Newport Daily News. As a member of the 250th Commission, a state-appointed group organizing celebrations to mark Rhode Island’s upcoming bicentennial in 2026, Roberts said they used Newport’s Juneteenth celebration to see the feasibility of hosting a bicentennial celebration in the city.

“I can’t tell you about what’s going to take place there because it’s a secret for right now but eventually we’ll be helping to organize that 250th event that’s going to take place there,” Roberts said.

Additionally, Roberts said RISHM is planning to announce a new walking tour it plans to host at the Juneteenth celebration.

After the Juneteenth celebration’s official end at 4 p.m. the organization will host its first Newport Black History Walking Tour, a $20 guided experience that leads guests to the several Slave History Medallion markers around the city and informs them on the area’s connection to the slave trade. The tour happening on June 15 will be free and open to the first 20 to 25 people that sign up.

“There are so many locations in the historic district where we can tell the stories of the enslaved,” Roberts said. “We’re telling the stories of the enslaver and the enslaved.”

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