The rain, wind and waves that threatened to cancel the broad array of Juneteenth weekend programs conjured up the innovation, determination, ingenuity and sacrifices that our ancestors deployed against almost intolerable living conditions in slavery and that still prevailed in Texas until Major General Gordon Granger freed them on June 18, 1865. The strength that they embodied emboldened all participants to carry on despite the weather.

Inkwell Haven Foundation turned to Union Chapel to bring all festivities inside. Since the time of slavery through Reconstruction, the Age of Shearer, the civil rights movement, the Age of Brooke, the Age of Obama and today, the church has been a refuge against slavery, racism and discrimination. Its sanctuaries have served as a meeting and convening place for all. And so it was this past weekend.

On Friday, Dr. Noelle Trent, the new president of the Museum of African American History — Boston, joined the first session of the weekend’s events by providing commentary and context for a screening of the film Jubilee, Juneteenth and the Thirteenth featuring Hill Harper. This was followed by Nikole Hannah-Jones introducing the first episode of The 1619 Project, a six-part documentary series produced by Hulu.

Saturday shifted dramatically to music, song and jam sessions creating the entertainment and an atmosphere of celebration. Free spirits sang and danced into the evening.

Rev. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson preached to an overflowing crowd at Union Chapel on Sunday. He hummed, mixed Biblical allegories, rap and philosophy as he used the passage Ephesians 5:6-14 as a premise for speaking on the subject of Stay Woke. The music played by pianist Geoff Hicks included classics such as Amazing Grace and Great is Thy Faithfulness.

The last hymn was Lift Every Voice and Sing, adapted from a poem written by James Weldon Johnson and set to music by his brother J. Rosamond Johnson. This brilliant writer, poet, playwright, lawyer and civil rights leader was born on Juneteenth weekend, June 17, 1871. This coincidence of dates led to a major celebration of Mr. Johnson’s life this past weekend in Great Barrington. Events during that Juneteenth celebration included tours of his writer’s cottage and the estate of his wife, Grace Nail, as well as a gala dinner including an auction.

In Vineyard Haven, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center was host to the HistoryMakers and the franchise dealers of Toyota just across from the ship Amistad on Beach Road. There are more than 30 Vineyard residents who have provided interviews and oral histories to catalogue in the HistoryMakers archive, an international repository of Black history. Many were in attendance at the interview of Captain Bill Pinkney led by author and historian Skip Finley, who is also the Vineyard Gazette’s director of sales and marketing. Hundreds took time to visit the Amistad.

Kahina Van Dyke, the strategic curator of the Juneteenth Jubilee Cultural Festival, hosted a thank you dinner on Sunday night for Juneteenth participants, family and friends. The evening began with champagne and appetizers including fried shrimp and grits on the porch of the Inkwell Beach House overlooking Inkwell Beach. The howling wind, rain, heavy waves and historic memories provided a glimpse of the courage needed to face the brutal elements on the the slave ships coming across the Middle Passage.

With her father on her arm, Kahina led a slow promenade around the corner to the decorated tent in the side yard of historic Dunmere Cottage. All were treated to a feast from Chef Martin of the Black Pot Supper Club based in Los Angeles.

Chef Martin’s theme was recipes from Black culinary genius almost lost to history. The menu evoked the food of our ancestors and included black eyed pea pancakes with red pepper jelly and fermented greens. The second course of smoked haddock chowder with red potatoes, chow chow and dill was perfect to mute the chilly wind. The main course of pork crown roast au jus was surrounded by rigatoni, Parmesan, cream, sherry, black pepper and green cabbage with heirloom tomatoes and cheddar cornbread. The dessert was James Hemings’ snow egg peaches, basil and pecans.

It is imperative to place the progress for equality and freedom on vivid display during this Juneteenth Jubilee Celebration of 2023 in the context of Major General Gordon Granger’s General Order No. 3, the proclamation freeing Texan slaves. In part he noted, “This involves (freedom) an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves.“ May each of us in all of our perfect imperfections continue to strive for a more perfect union in the days, weeks and months ahead until we meet in 2024.

Paradise on earth is living the Vineyard experience. Enjoy it as life is fleeting! Randall Edward Taylor, rest in peace.