History in Celebration

Our Juneteenth Festival is a three-day long celebration of the commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States after the Civil War. Partnering with the New London NAACP, OIC New London, and the New London County Historical Society, the Hempsted Houses are home to this yearly community event highlighting the African American history of the Hempsted Houses and the surrounding New London neighborhood.

Join us each day as we engage in activities encouraging conversations about emancipation, cultural awareness, and civic responsibility. Share a conversation over a community campfire; spend the night at the New London County Historical Society Shaw Mansion with Joseph McGill; celebrate Juneteenth with us on Saturday and end the three-day festival with Sunday Services. Explore all activities below and sign up for Juneteenth Festival updates!

Schedule of Events

We invite you to discover what’s happening during our Juneteenth Festival. Learn more about each event, special guests, and register for daily activities, too. Be sure to check back here or sign up for reminders below for updates on activities and times!

Friday, June 7

Juneteenth Virtual Presentation (10 am)

Join Living Historians Joseph McGill of the Slave Dwelling Project and Tammy Denease of Hidden Women Productions as they commemorate Juneteenth in this special virtual presentation. Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the United States, announced in 1865 by Union Soldiers in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved were now free.

Registration appreciated, but not required! This event will be held over Zoom. Registrants will receive a link via email to view the program the day of the event. Visit ctlandmarks.org/presentation to join. Meeting ID: 844 0862 5654 | Passcode: 151696

Campfire Conversation (5:30 pm – 7 pm)

Gather around the campfire for a community conversation to commemorate historic and present-day struggles toward freedom and hear more about the work of Joseph McGill of the Slave Dwelling Project and Tammy Denease of Hidden Women Productions.

REGISTRATION CLOSED: Sleepover at the New London County Historical Society Shaw Mansion (7:30 pm – 7:30 am)

UPDATE: Thank you for your interest in attending the Shaw Mansion Sleepover from June 7-June 8, 2024. Registration is now closed as we have reached capacity for this event. Those who filled out the event inquiry form will be contacted via the email address provided. Please visit slavedwellingproject.org to learn more about Joseph McGill’s work and discover other Slave Dwelling Project events.

Visitors will have the opportunity to meet Joseph McGill on Sunday, June 9 at the Phelps-Hatheway House in Suffield, where he will be signing copies of his most recent book, Sleeping with the Ancestors. The book will be available for purchase in the gift shop. Learn more about that event here.

Join Joseph McGill as well as staff from the Hempsted Houses and the Shaw Mansion as we continue the conversation about the truthful narrative of American history and the legacies of slavery.

The Shaw Mansion was built in 1756 for captain Nathaniel Shaw and was home to ten enslaved people. On his deathbed, Nathaniel Shaw Jr. emancipated all ten enslaved people in 1781. During the conversation, participants will learn about the lives of Caesar Shaw, Celia Shaw, James Tilley, and Prince who were four of the ten enslaved people on the property.

Saturday, June 8

Juneteenth Celebration Day (10:45 am – 4 pm)

Celebrate Juneteenth with music and dance performances, living history presentations, and children’s activities and crafts. Connecticut Landmarks and partners will highlight the African American history of the Hempsted Houses and the surrounding neighborhood with the City of New London.

Schedule of the day’s activities

10:45 am – Drumming led by Kenny “Doc” Frazier

11:15 am – Presentation of Colors – NLHS ROTC

11:30 am – Welcome – Curtis Goodwin

12:00 noon – NLHS Voices United

12:30 pm – Keynote Speaker – Lonnie Braxton

1:30 pm – Joan Jackson – Tammy Denease

2:00 pm – Book Reading – Carrie McWilliams

3:00 pm – Poetry Reading – Arnell Peck

Fill out the form below if you’re interested in being notified of Juneteenth Festival updates.

Sunday, June 9

Sunday Services (11:30 am – 3 pm)

Pastor Michael Cagle leads participants in community for a spiritual and lively non-denominational church service followed by performances by The Jim Hunter Jazz Group and the New London Public Schools Bands.

Full details for each event can be found on our calendar. To view the calendar, click here.

In partnership with

Generously supported by

The Frank Loomis Palmer Fund

The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut

The Chelsea Groton Foundation, Inc.

Connecticut Explored, Inc.

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