There’s a celebration going on this Saturday, June 20—a celebration of Juneteenth, the 1865 date when Texas slaves were informed the Civil War had ended two years ago and they were free.
The event is meant to not only celebrate the unity and pride of the African American culture, but also honor and educate the community.
This year’s Juneteenth event, hosted by the Buckeye Summer Soul Series, the NAACP Cleveland, and Neighbor Up, begins with an 11 a.m. Freedom Walk, which is a bit over a half-mile long from Benedictine High School, 2900 MLK Jr. Blvd., to Art & Soul Park, 11802 Buckeye Road.
After the walk, the celebration continues with live music, a drum circle, giveaways, free food, vendors, arts and crafts activities, voter registration, and 2020 Census completion.
There will be around 10 vendors, including Buckeye Summer Soul Series partner CJ’s, which will serve burgers, sandwiches, non-meat options, and other various food truck fare.
“Juneteenth couldn’t be more timely this year,” says Julian Khan, lead organizer for the Juneteenth Celebration. “This celebration of our arts, history, ingenuity, and collective resiliency is certain to instill hope and the spirit of possibility as we continue our fight for freedom.”
Danielle Sydnor, president of NAACP Cleveland, agrees with Khan that this Juneteenth is the right time for everyone to come together.
“This is a moment to be able to say that despite of all the atrocities we have experienced as black people in America, we still find time and reasons to gather as a community and empower each other,” she says. “My favorite part is the memories that give you a chance to look back and see all the things you learned and people you met.”
In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation set slaves free. But, in Texas word of the emancipation did not come until June 19, 1865—a date now known as Juneteenth.
Sydnor says there is a heightened sense of awareness around the racism and discrimnation the black community still faces today.
“There are people paying attention and interested to learn more,” she says. “Juneteenth is a day to regather and celebrate and think about what else has to be done to keep going forward to continue to build upward mobility.”
Saturday’s Juneteenth celebration runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event in free and open to the public. All participants will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing.