Preserve Protect Build

Salem United fosters a commitment to Preserve and Protect the historical significance and annual tradition of Black Picnic Day formerly, Negro Election Day with an emphasis on self-identity and family values by putting forth our history in an effort to Build lasting unity amongst our communities, elderly, and youth.


Salem United is a non-profit organization and shall operate exclusively for educational and charitable purposes within the meaning of 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future Federal tax code. Salem United’s purpose is to Preserve and Protect Black Picnic Day formerly, Negro Election Day while unifying individuals, organizations, and companies in bettering our communities.

In our efforts to preserve this sacred day we set out to accomplish the following:

§  Increase participation in Voter Registration

§  Unite businesses and community members in exploring and embracing the historical significance our community fosters as the origin of “The First Black Voting System”

§  Provide a current and positive image of Black America.

Salem United Board Members


Doreen Wade – President
Vacant - Vice President

Su Almeida - Clerk
Donald Mitchell - Treasurer
Shakti Rovner - Secretary
Stuart Primus
Anna Whitted
Warren Barnett


Salem Maritime National Historic Site (U.S. National Parks Service)
Junetheeth of Lynn
City of Salem MA

Negro Election Day known as Black Picnic Day celebrating it's 279th year and Salem United celebrating it's 5th year anniversary and 279th year, July 18, 2020!

Message From President

I want to thank the Members of Salem United Board of directors and Members for serving.  I know serving on a Board is challenging but I want you to understand through the good and the bad you are a valuable asset as Board Of Directors, Board Members and Staff and we hope that the challenges are less.

This booklet has been designed to make it easier for you to understand rules, regulations and rights to service as Board Of Directors.

I hope all your questions are answered and my office door is always open to you.

Please read each page carefully then sign and return any papers necessary.

We thank you and look forward to you serving throughout your term with excitement.

Thank you

Doreen Wade, President

For More Information: Check out www.salemunitedinc.org

1741 - 2020

The Evolution of The First Black Voting System
Negro Election Day known as Black Picnic Day

18th Century

Puritan New England, slave owners and freemen organized blacks from Massachusetts to vote for a black governor/King acting as a liaison between white and black relations.  Worthy but not recognized federally, it was a great way to pass down African music, stories, games, and traditions

After the Fifteenth Amendment

After the Civil War the festivals voting process came to a halt, spurred by the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870.   With the building of Salem Willows Park the festival moved from the Saugus River to the Park.

Early 20th Century

The Colored People’s Picnic held track and field events and church choirs as they did in the 18th century. Dances were held with jazz greats such as Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway held at the Charleshurst Ballroom.  The Churches took an active role and participated strongly. 

World War II

Since Black people worked in factories and defends plants, the picnic moved to the third Saturday of July.  Weekends were the only option. Churches became less active and families traveled from all parts of Massachusetts.

Civil Rights Movement

In 1968, during the Civil Rights Movement, the name Colored People’s Picnic was changed to Black Picnic from the strength of self-identity by The Black Power movement.  The festival still stayed stop to the Massachusetts Black community.

Late 20th Century

From the 90’s to the early 2000’s Black Picnic Day brought larger crowds, corporate sponsors and more.  The bandstand became the highlight for the shows as the Ballroom burnt down.  Negro Election Day remained in its location since 1885 and was placed in the National Historical Registry. Salem United was formed in 2015 to preserve, protect and grow Black Picnic Day. 

21st Century

It is widely recognized by Senator’s, governors, and mayors who participate in the parade.  It has vendors, entertainers and a Flag Raising ceremony.  There is community collaborations with Organizations like National Parks Service and the City of Salem.  2021 brings the 280 year celebration of Black Picnic Day.  People attend the festival from all counties from Essex, Berkshires, Middlesex, Worcester and throughout.