A local Juneteenth celebration is putting the spotlight on health this year, in hopes of further empowering Black communities.

The 3rd annual Doylestown Juneteenth event, which will be held on Saturday, June 15 at the Mercer Museum on Pine Street in the borough, will include speakers and resources from the medical and wellness community.

Juneteenth celebration at the Mercer Museum in Doylestown Pa.

Over the past two years, the event has brought the community together to celebrate freedom and achievement, build awareness around Juneteenth and its historical significance, and empower and uplift the Black community.

“It’s time for healing,” said Angela Nutter, director of Doylestown Juneteenth about this year’s additional focus on health and wellness.

“It’s been a rough couple of years, and I’ve realized I need to prioritize my own wellbeing. And if I’m feeling it, then I know a lot of others are feeling it, too. We’re trying to heal from the past traumas we’ve felt over the few years either in the immediate or in the long-term.”

But those traumas also involve a long and troubled racial history of medical mistreatment, said Nutter, citing cases like the Tuskegee Study, a 40-year experiment in which medical researchers and providers withheld syphilis treatment from unsuspecting African Americans in rural Alabama, and Henrietta Lacks, whose cancer cells were taken and used for research without her consent.

Minorities in America have been mistreated by doctors and scientists. (Left)

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“We’re trying to destigmatize seeking help because there was a distrust in the Black community of going to the doctor because of things that had gone on in the early 20th century,” Nutter said.

Dr. Monique Gray, a breast surgeon oncologist who will be speaking at Saturday’s event, hopes to share a message to help rebuild that trust with the Black community.

“We have not always been voluntary participants in medical research and the medical community has not always partnered with us for our wellness, bias in medicine is real and participation in clinical research is very low for black and brown communities who bare a disproportionate burden of disease,” Gray said.

“So, it’s a moral imperative for us to address the elephant in the room and rebuild trust with the community for greater health equity.”

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As a Black medical professional, Gray said representation plays a large part in helping to bridge the divide, paving the way for others to realize a healthier future for themselves and their families through preventative care, mental health support, nutrition and physical activity.

“It’s important that the demographics of our medical community reflect the communities that we serve. Representation matters. When they see me, they see someone that comes from where they come from and that they can trust,” she said.

“The best way to honor our heritage is by embodying the future that our ancestors worked so hard for, that they died for, and it was so that their children’s children’s children could have a better life. And we have that opportunity to live a life of fullness and wholeness and wellness — mind body and spirit. And I want to people to believe that. That’s our heritage and our birthright.”

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More on Saturday’s Doylestown Juneteenth event:

Doylestown Juneteenth takes place on Saturday, June 15 from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the grounds of Mercer Museum at 84 S. Pine St. in Doylestown.

The outdoor event, organized by the nonprofit organization Doylestown Juneteenth in partnership with the Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle, features speakers, live performances, musicians, a DJ, food trucks, vendors and artisans, family-friendly crafts and activities, and free admission to the Mercer Museum. 

It is free and open to everyone in the community.

Parking is very limited at the Mercer Museum, so guests are encouraged to use the Bucks County Parking Garage at Broad and Court streets. A free DART Bus shuttle will run a continuous loop between the Mercer Museum and the garage between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Reporter Michele Haddon covers local news, small business, economic development, community revitalization, art and culture for The Intelligencer and Bucks County Courier Times at PhillyBurbs.com. Please considering supporting local journalism with a subscription.