MILLBURN, NJ — Last year, Millburn Township officially commemorated Pride Month for the first time by raising a rainbow flag in front of town hall. This year, in the midst of an extraordinary month, the township continued that tradition.
This year, the township made a slight change to the flag as well. Last year's flag was a standard rainbow pallette, while the new flag design incorporates black and brown bars above the rainbow color scheme, a nod to minority members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The timing of the new flag and its raising coincided with several weeks of nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department.
It also happened to fall on the holiday Juneteenth, which is traditionally celebrated in the Black community as the day when the last group of slaves in the United States learned of their freedom. While initially scheduled for earlier in the month, this year's pride flag raising was originally postponed by inclement weather.
That the flag raising happened at this moment in time was not lost on Millburn Mayor Jackie Lieberberg, who noted that Pride Month and Juneteenth both speak to a desire for freedom.
"It's been a very busy week in the history of the United States," Lieberberg said. "We had the Supreme Court decision [on LGBTQ+ workers]. we're celebrating pride [...] We are acknowledging all things that reflect freedom [and] equality.
"It's particularly auspicious that we're celebrating today on Juneteenth as we celebrate the liberation of those that were held as slaves in the United States. I think that it's a time that freedom, equality, fairness and social justice are all resonating simultaneously, and we have lots of work to do and will continue to do."
One of the town residents in attendance at the ceremony was Xanthe Miller, one of the co-presidents of the Millburn Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA). Miller noted that the township's acknowledgement of pride month was key, as it also serves as a reminder of the efforts that the GSA feels are needed across the country.
"I think it's really great to see that our community supports us," Miller said. "We're really lucky to live in a community where we have this opportunity. There are still a lot of communities around the United States and our state that don't have the same sort of luxury [of] being able to be proud, especially during Pride Month."