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Cleveland Juneteenth Freedom Fest—Everything to know about citywide festival celebrating end of slavery

Saturday, June 19 from 12-10 PM.
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Posted at 11:43 AM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-16 12:13:16-04

CLEVELAND — The first annual Cleveland Juneteenth Freedom Fest kicks off on Saturday to celebrate and commemorate Juneteenth, which marks the end of slavery.

Residents from every surrounding city, background and neighborhood are invited to attend the family-friendly, free citywide festival that will take place on Mall C in the heart of Downtown Cleveland on Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., according to a news release from organizers.

“Coinciding with the one-year anniversary of the civil unrest in Downtown Cleveland, Freedom Fest is representative of the city’s healing and collaborative work. It is also the culmination of collective efforts, a meeting of the minds, and a proactive step towards creating racial equity in northeast Ohio,” said MetroHealth Medical Center, a sponsor and organizer of the festival.

The holiday that was passed by the Senate to become a federal holiday marks June 19, 1865, when the Union Army brought word to Galveston, Texas that slavery had been outlawed—two years after the then-president Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

RELATED: Senate passes bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

The Freedom fest will focus on the rich African American arts and culture in Cleveland, beginning with the Karamu House, which, after a year of virtual performances, will resume in-person performances with “Freedom on Juneteenth: Songs of Liberation.”

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Performances by the Karamu House.

Gates will open at 12:00 p.m. with host DJ HazzMatt. The Jack Casino Vendor Village will showcase more than 20 Black businesses and entrepreneurs. There will be family-friendly activities such as art projects and other educational programming.

Towards the evening, Grammy Award-winning Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Science with special guests Ms. Lisa Fischer and Maimouna “Mumu Fresh” Youssef will headline a concert.

Schedule at a Glance

  • 12 p.m.—Gates and vendor village opens
  • 1 p.m.— Community stage and education center opens
  • 2 p.m.—Libations and presentations featuring Djapo, Leon Bibb and Karamu House Ensemble.
  • 6 p.m.—Karma House. “Freedom of Juneteenth: Songs of Liberation” performance
  • 8:30 p.m.—Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Science Concert performance
  • Fireworks finale

Below are more details on the day's events, from a Freedom Fest news release:

Hands-on activities

  • Sankofa Fine Arts Plus
  • Deep Roots Experience
  • Reading Ramm
  • The Visit Arts Collective

+ make and take Afrocentric crafts

Community stage showcases

  • 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"

Pop-up mobile experiences

  • 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

Find more info here.

RELATED: Northeast Ohio organizations celebrating Juneteenth with festivals and speakers this weekend

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