Though the Emancipation Proclamation declared slaves to be free in January 1863, enforcement and acknowledgement was inconsistent and slow to spread. It wasn't until June 19, 1865 that enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas learned they were free. Now, Juneteenth is celebrated annually on that date to commemorate the official end of slavery in the United States.
Though July 4 celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, that did not mean independence for every American. American history is important, but we recognize that it does not always celebrate of the past of our entire community. We invite the community to join us to honor the history of our African American colleagues and friends.
You can learn more about the history of Juneteenth here, and we've rounded up a list of events taking place around the community to commemorate the day.
June 17 | 8-3 p.m.
The King Arts Complex and Growing and Growth Collective have teamed up for a community beautification project in honor of Juneteenth. Starting with garden service projects at 8 a.m., the day will culminate in a dedication ceremony for the Julialynne Walker Gateway Learning Garden at the King Arts Complex at 1 p.m. Following the event, the community is encouraged to head down to the Maroon Arts Group MPACC Box Park and support Brozeville Growers Market (925 Mt. Vernon Ave.). Get involved here.
A Taste of Juneteenth!
June 19 | 12-4 p.m.
The Central Ohio African American Chamber of Commerce and Columbus Urban League have joined together to present A Taste of Juneteenth. Taking place at the Urban League headquarters, 788 Mt. Vernon Ave., there will be food trucks, a DJ, line dancing, and plenty of other vendors to explore.
Black Music: The Soundtrack of Humanity
June 19 | 1-2:30 p.m.
The Ohio History Center's Juneteenth Commemoration with Dr. Ted McDaniel and Dr. Mark Lomax will take place virtually this year. These two renowned performers and educators will discuss Black music and reflect on spirituals and blues as they relate to the foundation of global music. Learn more and get tickets here.
June 19 | 1-6 p.m.
This is the first year that Juneteenth is a state recognized holiday in Ohio, so the Black Liberation Movement of Central Ohio invites the community to join in a celebration reminiscent of the first Juneteenth. This celebration of emancipated African American was marked by dance, music and feast so this year, Goodale Park will offer an exciting day of Black culture, excellence, music, dance, food, joy and more. Learn more here.
Celebration of Juneteenth
June 19 | 2-6 p.m.
The Kelton House will celebrate Juneteenth with free admission and a number of activities, including a special talk about the Hartway and Lawrence family history by Executive Director Sarah Richardt at 3 p.m. and the opportunity to relax in the gardens. A special viewing of Create Your Own History, an exhibit featuring portraits of the people that were involved in the Underground railroad, will also be available at the nearby Kelton House Carriage House, at no charge.
Juneteenth Community Festival
June 19 | 5-9 p.m.
The Phenix Banquet Center's Juneteenth Community Festival will be a day of family fun in a space for all persons in our communities. This outdoor event will be held rain or shine and will feature live music, food trucks, community and fun for the whole family. Get tickets here.
Juneteenth Love & Light BBQ
June 20 | 12-4 p.m.
In the second annual iteration of this event, the community is invited as 600 free meals are distributed at Goodale Park. There will also be plenty of vendors to shop, entertainment and more on site. More information on the rally can be found here.
Raggin’ On: The Art of Aminah Robinson’s House and Journals
Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson was an artist from Columbus who grew up in Poindexter Village, one of the country's first federally funded metropolitan housing developments. Her diverse body of work ranges from drawings and woodcuts to complex sculptures made from natural and synthetic materials, such as twigs, carved leather, music boxes, and "hogmawg," her own material composed of mud, grease, dyes, and glue, and her works contain "the idea and symbols of Africa—as a reservoir of culture, as the abode of spirits and inspiration for form and meanings that have traversed the great transatlantic African Diaspora to the Americas." Upon her death in 2015, she bequeathed her entire estate to the Columbus Museum of Art, which has curated her collection into: Raggin’ On: The Art of Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson’s House and Journals. This is the first major exhibition of the artist’s work since her death and a celebration of Robinson’s work, vision and the home, and neighborhood she cherished.
The Kelton House Museum & Garden
This beautifully preserved 1852 home tells the story of its role on the Underground Railroad. Partake in the experiential "Sophia's Secret" tour, in which "Sophia Kelton" will be your personal guide to her home and share her family’s secret life as conductors on the Underground Railroad, including an introduction to a runaway making her way to freedom in Canada. The Kelton House offers an incredible look into living history can help us all better understand a sliver of life for those who haven't always known freedom.