On February 7 of 1768, Elizabeth Porter Phelps wrote that “this day a Negro man that was my father’s who ran away from my mother [...] which she sold to Mr. Oliver Warner for fifty dollars as soon as he went away - was brought back to him – his name was Zebulon Prutt.” Enslaved people were frequently bought and sold without their consent, and when Zebulon was caught and returned to Hadley he had a new owner, Oliver Warner. The Porter-Phelps family held at least six slaves before Massachusetts abolished enslavement in 1782, though the practice did not end nation-wide until this day, June 19th, 1865. The process of self-emancipation that Zebulon and countless others undertook required immense bravery. We'd like to recognize the brave men and women who fought against enslavement here in Massachusetts for 140 years, and across the nation, today on Juneteenth.
Our recognition of Juneteenth continues tonight, with a performance of music from the African Disapora, The Afro-Semitic Experience, tonight at 6:30 in the Sunken Garden.