Paulette Fox
 Paulette Fox,

Paulette Fox Bio

As Executive Director of the Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) of New Britain, Ms. Fox has been committed to leading the advancement of the underserved youth and adults of the city since 1985. In fact, she is the first African American female Executive Director of the OIC.

Paulette reflects on her decision to bring Juneteenth to New Britain. She says, “As a child growing up in Hartford, my mother and father always went to Juneteenth. When I came to New Britain 38 years ago and got involved with the OIC and relocated here, I got involved with the Museum of American Art.” Paulette continues, “Together with the Museum, we thought it would be wonderful to have our own Juneteenth—but with a different kind of cultural aspect.”

Ms. Fox thought it would be important to remind the community about this pivotal day in the history of America. She felt that the smaller size of the city would allow for a more intimate experience than a larger event like the Harford’s. She felt that the diversity in New Britain would be wonderfully served by a Juneteenth celebration. Paulette says, “We created Juneteenth to represent not just what African Americans went through, but we connected with other cultures like the Polish community, the Asian communities, the Latino community—so that people could celebrate their own cultures while coming together on Juneteenth. Together, they could experience the historical significance of what African Americans went through.”

Paulette appreciates that the collection and exhibitions at the NBMAA reflect diverse perspectives and that the Museum “makes it feel like home” for African Americans and people of other backgrounds. “It was so important to have the celebration here because it’s very important to have African Americans and different ethnic groups visit the Museum and understand the history of American art,” she says. For 23 years, the Juneteenth event at the NBMAA has represented the dynamic cultural identities of the community through food, music, and the shared understanding of the impact of the holiday.

“I get so emotional when I think that in today’s world, we all come together to celebrate Juneteenth as a national holiday,” says Ms. Fox. “I can just feel what happened on Juneteenth when it was found out by my ancestors years after Emancipation that they were free.”