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The Black Business Association in Amherst has made celebrating Juneteenth, a 15 year tradition

There are many Juneteenth festivities taking place across western Massachusetts, but one celebration by the Black Business Association in Amherst has been going on for 15 years.

Edward Cage, an Amherst resident, said he, University of Massachusetts Amherst professor Amilcar Shabazz, and fellow organizer Trevor Baptiste started what they called a "Family Fun Day" on Juneteenth back in 2010, years before it became a federal holiday in 2021.

"This was like a ‘bring your whole family and you don't have to worry about anything’ event. The concept is to make it inclusive, free to the people who just wanted to get together with their family, but it's hard," Cage said.

Trevor Baptiste said it was the right opportunity to bring people in the community together.

“The idea of coming together around Juneteenth seemed to perfectly fit our needs of finding community, creating community, and demonstrating for our children what that looks like. And it's in keeping with the history of Juneteenth, of news being brought that was unknown,” Baptiste said.

Edward Cage’s daughter, Monica Cage, who owns a hair braiding business called Crown by Cage, is a part of the Black Business Association in Amherst.

Cage said these events are vital to sustain the community.

"Not just for black people, but to teach other ethnicities and racial groups that unity is what we need. We need to be educated about our past to understand our future," Cage said.

Cage said events like Juneteenth create visibility in the Black community that otherwise goes unseen in a predominantly white town like Amherst.

Nirvani Williams covers socioeconomic disparities for New England Public Media, joining the news team in June 2021 through Report for America.
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