Juneteenth in Suffolk: County Launches Freedom Trail Challenge
Suffolk County has launched the new Freedom Trail Challenge, encouraging young people to explore 47 African American historical sites across the county in celebration of Juneteenth.
The locations along the trail and historical information about them can be found on the county website and a downloadable phone app. Student participants and their families can follow along, learn about Suffolk’s African American history, and compete in the challenge by visiting most of the sites.
“In Suffolk County, we proudly embrace inclusivity and equality and creating this Juneteenth Freedom Trail allows residents of all ages to explore and better understand the rich African American history that our County has to offer,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “Juneteenth gives us an opportunity to acknowledge and commemorate the progress made in this nation.
“However, there is still work to be done in regards to eliminating injustice in our country,” Bellone added. “As the county government, we bear the responsibility of taking meaningful steps to creating an environment where everyone is accepted and treated equally.”
Juneteenth, short for June Nineteenth, commemorates the day that federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to inform the state of the freeing of enslaved people and ensure their freedom. This came two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, which was meant to ban all slavery. Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021.
The county’s eight town historians, Town of Huntington’s African American Historic Designation Council, and the county’s Office of Minority Affairs and African American Advisory Board all collaborated on the Freedom Trail project.
“Every day – not just around holidays and anniversaries – the history of African-American people is local history,” said Mary Cascone, Babylon Town Historian. “This is a great opportunity to share community stories and history with our Suffolk County neighbors, in this interactive format.”
Student participants who visit a minimum of 75% of the historic sites by June 15 will be invited to attend the county’s Juneteenth Jubilee celebration on June 19 and will receive a certificate of completion.
“It warms my heart that Juneteenth has gone from a day that many residents were unfamiliar with to a national holiday that we can all celebrate and learn about together,” said Suffolk County Legislature Minority Leader Jason Richberg. “The county’s new Juneteenth Freedom Trail program is an incredible opportunity for our young people to learn about Suffolk County’s history and the numerous historical African American sites across our county.”
All school age students in Suffolk are encouraged to participate by visiting suffolkcountyny.gov/Freedom-Trail or downloading the TuftHunt app.