By Yadira Betances Muldoon
MethuenLife Writer

The city observed the Juneteenth holiday with music, gospel songs, poetry, prayers and speeches at Methuen Memorial Music Hall.

“This is a celebration of freedom from slavery. It’s a family celebration and a community celebration,” said the Rev. Nathaniel C. Burnes, pastor of First Baptist Church which hosted the event along with the City of Methuen.

Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery on June 19,1865, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

“From then on, families would have a reunion to teach children about the past and encourage them about the future,” Burnes said.

He noted it’s a community event.
“We come together to celebrate the history, embrace our differences and move forward with the love of Christ,” said Burnes, who is the fire chaplain and advisor to the Police Department.

The event featured outstanding gospel songs by Lura Smith accompanied by saxophonist Doug Leaffer and pianist Joseph Devoe. Ivy Kay read Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise.” There were performances by Community Strings, and gospel music in English and Spanish by the Adullam Church which meets at First Baptist.

Mayor Neil Perry, Fire Chief Tim Sheehy and Police Chief Scott McNamara addressed the public.