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WESTFORD — Westford hosted its first Juneteenth flag raising ceremony on Wednesday.

The June 19 event was held on the Westford Common and was organized by the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

“It’s important for everyone to feel welcome in Westford, regardless of the number of folks who reside here,” said Wendy Gloyd, a DEI committee member who helped organize the event. “It gives us a better earned reputation for being inclusive of all and that’s what our Westford DEI committee works towards each time we meet.”

Residents from Westford and surrounding towns joined the ceremony to celebrate Juneteenth. Several speakers attended the flag raising including Select Board member Andrea Peraner-Sweet.

“Today’s celebration is an indication and a reflection of the town’s commitment and its ongoing commitment to racial equity,” Peraner-Sweet said.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas with news of freedom and to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, which was signed by President Abraham Lincoln more than two years prior.

“While Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery in the United states, it wasn’t until 2021 when President Biden signed into law declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday,” Peraner-Sweet said. “While we gather here this morning to recognize and acknowledge the strength, the joy, and the resilience of the black community we must also reflect on not only how far we have come, but how far we still have to go.”

Massachusetts State Representative, James Arciero, and Westford Public Schools Director of Equity, Curriculum and Instruction, Magaly Rodriguez-Ronan also spoke at the event.

“Unfortunately this day remains largely unknown to most Americans outside of the  African-American community,” said Arciero, “but that’s changing today. I’m proud to stand with you to say that today we join the black community to honor Juneteenth with our first celebration of flag raising in Westford.”

Organizers say Juneteenth is “everybody’s Fourth of July.”

“The Fourth of July meant independence but mostly for white people,” said Gloyd. “Juneteenth is actually our collective freedom day because until we were all free no one was really free.”

The flag raising on the common was followed by a reception with Westford Historical Society President Leslie Howard at the Westford Museum.