Celebrate freedom at these Juneteenth 2021 events in Cincinnati. But first, a quick history lesson on Juneteenth.
What is Juneteenth, and why is it important?
Short for “June Nineteenth,” Juneteenth is a holiday celebrating freedom! It is also referred to as Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, Emancipation Day and Liberation Day.
So how is Juneteenth different from Independence Day? Many Americans recognize July 4, 1776 as a day of freedom. Unfortunately, many Americans were still enslaved on that day, and many days after that. Their slavery continued until June 19, 1865. That’s when a Union Army General by the name of General Gordon Granger and his troops arrived in Galveston, Texas. Granger took control of the state and made sure that ALL enslaved people were freed. He did so more than two years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
Lincoln had proclaimed the emancipation of enslaved people on January 1, 1863. But it was slave owners who were tasked with telling their slaves they had been freed. Many slave owners didn’t share the news. In fact, some intentionally waited until after the harvest season to inform their slaves that they were free. Granger’s arrival in Texas on June 18, 1865 changed all that. An estimated 250,000 slaves were freed! It was a great historic day when he read General Order No. 3: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”
One year later, Texas freedmen celebrated “Jubilee Day” and established the annual holiday of Juneteenth.
How is Juneteenth celebrated?
Juneteenth is now celebrated as an official state holiday in 47 states. (Texas was the first state to make it official in 1979.) Juneteenth has not been recognized as a federal holiday though. Lawmakers are working on that, and legislation that would recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday was reintroduced in early 2021.
Events celebrating Juneteenth include everything from prayer services to barbecues to playlists. Here are a few Juneteenth events happening around Cincinnati this year. And before you head to an event, learn about the meanings of the symbols on the Juneteenth flag here.
Juneteenth 2021 Events in Cincinnati
Sunday, June 13, 2021
Wade in the Water
3 p.m. at the Purple People Bridge
Dancers will cross the bridge from Newport to Cincinnati in a tribute to the significant role of water and the Ohio River in African American history. Note that the bridge was closed in early May for emergency repairs. If it’s still closed on June 13, this event will move to the Cincinnati waterfront.
Monday, June 14, 2021 to Thursday, June 18, 2021
How Freedom Echoes
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Kennedy Heights Arts Center in Kennedy Heights
6546 Montgomery Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45213
A course teaching the historical importance of Juneteenth and how our voices continue to carry a message of hope and freedom to the next generation. Runs June 14-18 and costs $190. Note: while this course is currently full, you can join the waitlist.
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Lift Every Voice and Sing
Noon at blkfreedom.org
In partnership with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Ten museums are partnering to celebrate the victory and liberty of African American people through a film documenting the national exploration of the deep-rooted anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
Thursday, June 17, 2021
Flag Raising Ceremony
11 a.m. at the Hamilton County Building in Downtown Cincinnati
138 E Court St, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Friday, June 18, 2021
Flag Raising Ceremony
10 a.m. at Cincinnati City Hall in Downtown Cincinnati
801 Plum St, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Juneteenth Kickoff Party
9 p.m.-1 a.m. at Esoteric Brewing Company in Walnut Hills
918 E McMillan St, Cincinnati, OH 45206
Celebrating Cincy Black Pride. Presented by DJ Jayy and DJ Rah D.
The Annual in the Street on Juneteenth Block Party
4-11 p.m. at the Dora District in Downtown Cincinnati
Featuring DJ Prymtime, Natural Progression, and DJ Arie and DJ Rah D.
Cincy’s Black Business Power Brunch
11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine
1225 Elm St, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Celebrating Black entrepreneurs of Cincinnati. Reservations needed.
Saturday, June 19, 2021
Art in Color
2-8 p.m. at ArtScape Lebanon – The Art Depot in Lebanon
740 S US 42, Lebanon, OH 45036
Exhibition of Black artists. Runs June 19-July 14.
9 a.m.-3 p.m. at multiple venues in Springboro
Daylong celebration at three venues across Springboro, with shuttle service running between all three venues.
Music and live performances at North Park Amphitheater (195 Tamarack Trail, Springboro, OH 45066), Underground Railroad site tours starting at the Springboro Area Musuem (110 S Main St, Springboro, OH 45066), and a 3-on-3 basketball tournament at the Coffman Family YMCA (88 Remick Blvd, Springboro, OH 45066).
Sunday, June 20, 2021
Juneteenth Virtual Celebration
11 a.m. online and on WXIX FOX19