News from the Somerset County Board of County Commissioners

Shanel Y. Robinson, Commissioner Director Ÿ Melonie Marano, Commissioner Deputy Director

Sara Sooy, Commissioner Ÿ Paul Drake, Commissioner Ÿ Doug Singleterry, Commissioner

June 2, 2022


Somerset County Announces 2022 Juneteenth Celebration

Featuring Live Music and Performances

SOMERVILLE, NJ – On Thursday, June 16, the Somerset County Board of County Commissioners will hold its second annual Juneteenth Celebration starting at 6 p.m. on the steps of the Somerset County Historic Courthouse, located at 20 North Bridge St., Somerville. The event will be held rain or shine.

“We invite people to come out and join us on June 16 for an evening of history, community and family fun. Be sure to bring a blanket or lawn chair so you’re comfortable during the program,” said Commissioner Director Shanel Y. Robinson. “By celebrating Juneteenth, we acknowledge our past while keeping an eye towards our shared future. Accepting our country’s history doesn’t mean we are stuck in the past. We as a community are smarter and more resilient when we take advantage of our diversity and work together to build a better future.”

Live performances will feature an eclectic blend of poetry, jazz, spirituals, and contemporary music, including international soprano Sonya Headlam performing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and the Jonathan Ware Quartet premiering selections from “Talking Suite. Additional entertainment will include poetry performances by Olivia Altidor and Ssanyu Lukoma, and the premiere of an original Juneteenth dramatic skit, titled “To Be Free,” written by playwright Ryan Kilpatrick and performed by local Somerset County youth.

Speakers will include Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, Commissioner Director Shanel Robinson and Mayor Dennis Sullivan.

Immediately after the Juneteenth celebration, Downtown Somerville will host a live performance by Alexander Simone and Whodat? on Division Street until 9 p.m. Simone is the grandson of legendary Nina Simone.


Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation in 2020 declaring Juneteenth a state and public holiday. President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act on June 17, 2021 – the same day that Somerset County held its inaugural Juneteenth celebration.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger rode to Galveston, Texas and informed enslaved people of their freedom as stated by the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. 

By celebrating Juneteenth, Somerset County acknowledges New Jersey’s history of enslavement and the oppression of its African American residents, as our diverse and caring community actively creates remedies and builds an inclusive, shared and bright future.

For more information, contact the Cultural & Heritage Commissioner at 908-231-7110, or visit our website at

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