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  • Writer's pictureLocal History Collection

Juneteenth Celebration with Carolyn Brown

Over the past several years, Carolyn Brown, an accomplished theatrical performer who is native to Long Island, has shared her genealogical research journey with the Local History Collection. The descendent of Roslyn residents of Black and Indigenous origin, Carolyn has been a vital force in uncovering important historical information about this community, including the discovery of displaced graves belonging to early members of Roslyn's Salem AME Church.

Recently, she was featured alongside Reverend Omotayo Cole Cineus and the Local History Collection’s Carol Clarke in a Newsday Article involving the pursuit of landmark status of the Salem AME Church building.

Marking the full emancipation of slaves in Texas years after Lincoln’s Proclamation, Juneteenth is a federal holiday that is gaining more and more attention as it has come to symbolize freedom from slavery on a national scale. Though Juneteenth falls on June 19th of every year, The Bryant Library celebrated this momentous holiday this past weekend on June 10th with a moving performance from Carolyn’s theatre company, Townsend Brown Productions.

Juxtaposing the sorrow of slavery with the joy of liberation, Carolyn's powerful voice filled the Glannon Room through both song and speech, creating a layered, textured performance that sunk deep to the core of all those in attendance.

Carolyn presented the program alongside an ensemble of individuals that read newspaper advertisements written by former slaves who desperately desired information about their families and recited poetry by Langston Hughes.

The performers brought a wonderful spectrum of voices to the program that embodied the pain of being forcefully separated from loved ones.

As we approach the annual commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States, we hope to impart reflection on the meaning of Juneteenth and how it relates to our lives in the present day. Though Black History receives narrow coverage in school curriculums, we are proud to offer a resource on this topic with our Black History Portal. There, you can find more blog articles, photos, writings, and oral histories that give insight into local Roslyn stories told by the people who lived them.

Thank you to Carolyn Townsend Brown and her ensemble for highlighting the significance of Juneteenth and providing our library with programs that both inform and awaken!

For more information and educational resources about Juneteenth, visit The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History's website which provides curriculum guides, primary sources, and essays on this important piece of our nation's history.


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