Greenfield marks Juneteenth holiday with Abolitionist Art Walk

Greenfield marks Juneteenth holiday with Abolitionist Art Walk

GREENFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) – Dozens of people walked around the downtown area for the inaugural Abolitionist Art Walk Wednesday to mark the Juneteenth holiday.

Western Mass News was there for the walking tour where people from within and outside of the city could learn about 12 historical landmarks connected to the Abolitionist Movement and the Underground Railroad.

“I learned a little bit about the abolitionist movement in Florence because I used to live in Florence. And so it’s kind of cool to get an extension of that and learn more about other people in Greenfield,” said Easthampton’s Katie Joyce.

In addition, there was a mural at each site painted by local artists to help illustrate the local history. Among those artists was Springfield librarian, Lee Moonan, who created a mural on George St. Davis, a founding member of the Franklin County Anti-Slavery Society.

She tells Western Mass News the importance of her role.

“I think it’s just doing your part when you see injustice happening, to just step up and do your part as much as you can. Even doing art like this feels important to me,” said Moonan.

Other artists included Easthampton’s Melissa Pandina. One of her three pieces illustrates the Fisk family, who sheltered those on the journey of the underground railroad.

“I learned about how the quilting was used to communicate how to go and what to do. So, I was able to take that, turn the quilt into a landscape, and then have some of the people who were walking their way to freedom,” said Pandina.

From Black barber and musician, John Putnam to lawyer and former U.S. Representative George Grennell, Pandina says it is crucial to understand these figures, the overall history and lessons to understand both a haunting past and the slaves’ long path to freedom.

“Justice is a long, long road. And the only way we get to justice is when we all work together because you can ignore one voice. You can’t ignore 1,000 voices,” said Pandina.

Joyce, an elementary school teacher in West Springfield, agrees.

“I’m thinking about ways to make this more accessible for kids and ways to teach children about this local history as well, and how to make it accessible for children. I think that would be a cool way to make it a part of our wider culture,” said Joyce.

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