2023 Juneteenth Celebrations

Juneteenth holds the distinction of being the United States’ oldest nationally observed occasion commemorating the abolition of slavery. While the Emancipation Proclamation was officially enacted on January 1, 1863, it was not until two and a half years later that the news of freedom reached the enslaved individuals residing in Texas. Juneteenth signifies the pivotal moment when all those held in bondage became aware of their liberation.

In the spirit of honoring this significant milestone, we are excited to announce a weekend-long celebration of Juneteenth. Below, you will find an overview of the various events taking place throughout our community. We invite you to join us in commemorating the cherished value of freedom.

2023 Weekend Schedule


12:00 PM – at the Keene Family YMCA
The Freedom Journey Trail opens for self-guided tours
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.


7:00 PM – 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), followed by virtual screenings of films on related topics.


11 AM-2 PM – at Railroad Square | Downtown Keene
Juneteenth Celebration
Organized by the City of Keene’s Human Rights Committee and features exhibitors, musical performances, speakers, and more. The YMCA Freedom Journey Trail will also be recreated on the bike path starting at Railroad Square and open for self-guided tours throughout the event.

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 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.