Unite Chenango Hopes To Promote Historical Awareness With First Event

By: Tyler Murphy

New group will celebrate reading of Emancipation Proclamation to the last Confederate slaves

NORWICH – Unite Chenango is a newly formed community group dedicated to creating increased local awareness on racial and social inequality and promoting discussions with residents and officials.

“We have organized a group called Unite Chenango in hopes of bringing about positive change,” said Latoya Jenkins, one of Unite Chenango's organizers. “Our mission is to awaken the minds of others to the injustices in our own community and hopefully ignite in them a willingness to change.”

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Jenkins along with other residents, including Amanda Mills, planned a peaceful protest in downtown Norwich over the police killing of George Floyd.

Jenkins graduated from Norwich High School in 2005 and is a registered nurse, Mills works at a local library. The two of them coordinated the event with a local student.

The protest highlighted Floyd's killing at hands of Minneapolis police officers. About a hundred people attended the six-hour protest on June 4 in Norwich's West Park.

“We hold this gathering to stand in solidarity against police brutality and the mistreatment of people of color. We support the Black Lives Matter movement and hope to shed light on the injustices that have taken place against our fellow humans. We do not welcome anyone who aims to incite violence, rioting, or looting” said Mills at the time.

Following the protest Mills and Jenkins formed a new community group, Unite Chenango. The group's page on Facebook has more than a 100 followers.

“I have hope that through our organization our community can really come together,” said Jenkins.

The group will hold a Juneteenth Freedom Day celebration on June 19, from 6 to 7 p.m. on Facebook Zoom. You can locate the group's page at Unite Chenango (@unitechenango); www.facebook.com/unitechenango.

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"On June 19, 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued on January 1, 1863, was read to enslaved African Americans in Texas, the last Confederate state to have the proclamation announced, after the end of the American Civil War.” explained Jenkins.

“Juneteenth is a celebration of peace, love and happiness. A celebration of freedom and unity. Juneteenth celebrates the day when slaves realized they were free,” she said. “It is the black Independence Day. We feel it is important to celebrate this in order to give recognition to the black community. We hope with this event all people will join us to learn and to celebrate as a community.”

There will be performances, poetry readings, the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, as well as footage from participants' actual BBQs.


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