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Salem’s Black Picnic
July 20 @ 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
This family-friendly event began its tradition at the time of the Salem Willows creation in the 1880’s and has roots that go back before the American Revolution. Many families have been attending for generations, tracing all the way back to the 1700’s.
The picnic is being held by Salem United whose president, Doreen Wade, began coming to the picnic while she was growing up in Cambridge. Wade says of the picnic that “it’s always been one of the best and most rewarding things I’ve ever gone to.”
At the picnic, you can find many traditional foods that date back such as collard greens, potato salad and spare ribs; however, the picnic also has a political side as well. The event evolved from an 18th-century tradition called “Negro Election Day” where enslaved and free people of color voted for a “governor.” Although this governor had no recognized power in an official capacity, they were able to represent the community. To acknowledge the importance of this day, Massachusetts Governor Baker signed a decree in 2015 recognizing the Black Picnic as a historical event.
While there will be plenty of food vendors to choose from if you want to take a break from cooking this weekend, it is encouraged to celebrate the tradition by bringing some of your own home cooked flavor to the event!