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Northeast Ohio organizations celebrating Juneteenth with festivals and speakers this weekend

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Posted at 7:24 AM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-19 15:53:21-04

CLEVELAND — The U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation Tuesday establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday to commemorate the day on June 19, 1865, when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas learned they were free—2.5 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

This weekend, several events are happening in Northeast Ohio to recognize the true end of slavery in the U.S.

In Cleveland

Cleveland’s Public Library and organizers are putting together events that not only acknowledge the importance of teaching the history of Juneteenth but also ways to celebrate the culture and achievements of Blacks in America, especially here in Cleveland.

“And it seems like it's gotten some more attention based on a lot of things that are happening within our community from police brutality all the way up to pandemic and health inequalities,” said Twyla Turner, director of inclusion and leadership education at Cleveland Public Library.

To help continue these important topics of conversation, Cleveland’s Public Library is offering a number of programs and activities through Saturday, including virtual workshops, film screenings, community discussions and gatherings.

Click HERE to see the full list of free events hosted by the Cleveland Public Library.

The library posted videos you can watch online right now including a virtual tour of the history of Black Glenville.

“It was an opportunity to be able to capture that under the importance of what it is to be free and what we can do as a community with our dollars that we have ,” she said.

Freedom Fest Cleveland

MetroHealth will hold a celebration Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. at Mall C in Downtown Cleveland. The festival is free and is a partnership with Karamu House, Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Ingenuity Cleveland and others.

The event, called Freedom Fest, "is the culmination of collective efforts, a meeting of the minds, and a proactive step towards creating racial equity in Northeast Ohio."

You can watch part of the festival in the player below:

Juneteenth festival in Cleveland

Here are the details regarding the festivities:

Freedom Fest – The Event

Starting at 12:00 p.m., the gates will open on Mall C with host DJ HazzMatt. The JACK Casino vendor village will showcase more than 20 Black businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as community programming and education. The family-friendly celebration continues into the evening with a headline performance by GRAMMY Award winning Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Science with special guests Ms. Lisa Fischer and Maimouna “Mumu Fresh” Youssef; “Freedom on Juneteenth: Songs of Liberation,” a mainstage performance by Karamu House, the country’s oldest Black producing theatre; and a fireworks finale made possible by CL3 Alliance, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Browns, and Cleveland Indians.

Freedom Fest – The Lineup

Experience a complete day of festivities, including but not limited to:

Community stage showcases from performing arts groups:
  • Music and poetry selections from Temple of Passions
  • Breakdancing from ELEVĀTED & LEVITĀTED
  • Shooting Without Bullets Artist Collective, featuring social justice themed music & spoken word
  • Reading of Ma'Sue Productions' new one-man show "Speaking My Black Mind"
Mainstage performances, interviews, and guests:
  • GRAMMY Award winning Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Science with special guests Ms. Lisa Fischer and Maimouna “Mumu Fresh” Youssef
  • Karamu House’s “Freedom on Juneteenth: Songs of Liberation”
  • Dance & drumming performance by Djapo Cultural Arts
  • “What is Juneteenth?” a community conversation featuring Leon Bibb
  • Refresh Collective youth hip hop project
Hands-on youth art activities and showcases provided by:
  • Sankofa Fine Arts Plus
  • Deep Roots Experience
  • Reading Ramm
  • The Visit Arts Collective
  • Make and take Afrocentric crafts
Healthy play for youth provided by:
  • RollinBuckeyez Foundation pop-up roller rink
  • Recess CLE with fun and classic field games
Pop-up/mobile experiences including:
  • Splice Cream Truck, a mobile recording studio will capture the spirit of community storytelling through its built-in record lathe
  • #VoicesofCLE Pop-Up Gallery with more than a dozen large-scale works
    • Artists will work live on site and offer opportunities for audiences to participate and make a mark of their own
    • Featured artist talent includes Jerome White, Rashuan Dillard, Stina Aleah, September Shy and more!
  • COVID-19 Vaccines courtesy of the City of Cleveland Department of Public Health

"As Juneteenth marks the ending of slavery on June 19, 1865, Cleveland’s Freedom Fest will celebrate and spotlight the rich historical presence of African American arts and culture in Cleveland. This begins with Karamu House, who after a year of virtual artistic presentations, looks to resume its in-person performances. An integral part of community culture, Karamu House is often a primer for the global stage and silver screen. It is a responsibility and privilege that the next generation of world-renowned Black artists continue to be groomed right here in Cleveland," event organizers said.

CLICK HERE for more information on Freedom Fest.

Juneteenth Unityfest

There will be a national livestream event Saturday evening "that that will bring together people of all backgrounds in a day of unity to commemorate and celebrate Juneteenth and Black culture with musical performances, inspiring remarks, films, comedy, storytelling, and appearances by civic leaders and influencers."

The event is conceived by Grammy-nominated artist Robert Randolph.

The livestream starts at 5 p.m. CLICK HERE to watch.

In Akron

People in the city of Akron are also commemorating Juneteenth with an annual festival happening Friday at Kerr Park. Find more info here.

“We really hope to just bring the community together in unity,” said Fela Sutton, Akron Juneteenth Festival Coordinator.

Friday’s events kick off with live music and activities and giveaways for kids from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Kerr Park. Then Saturday from noon until 7 p.m. There will be dozens of vendors and black business owners, free food for kids, talent and car shows, and an open mic for community conversation at Stoner Hawkins Park.

“Some of these organizations, we don't see each other all year long. So I think this is a good meeting place for us to be able to come together and just catch up and have a good time,” said Sutton.

On Sunday, there will be a virtual meeting with the Kanuni Tribe on Expressing Your Freedom.

“We've incorporated as many people in the city as we can, all colors, shapes, sizes. Everyone is welcome to enjoy these festivities,” said Sutton.

The city of Akron has recognized June 19 as Juneteenth Independence Day.

“While Juneteenth has been celebrated by many in the African American community for over 150 years, Congress took the important step of declaring this day a national holiday,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “This holiday reminds us that the journey to true freedom for African Americans continues to this day, and highlights our responsibility to be aware of our history, even when it reveals the painful struggle for equality for all. I am honored to join with our entire community in celebrating Juneteenth and to do the real work of building a more equitable Akron."

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