Freedom Center to host inaugural Juneteenth Jubilee

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center invites people from across the region to visit downtown Cincinnati on Wednesday, June 19 to celebrate the inaugural Juneteenth Jubilee.

For those that don’t know, Juneteenth commemorates the events on June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved people were now free. 

Those events, now celebrated as Juneteenth, happened more than two-and-a-half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. It was nearly 250 years after the first enslaved Africans arrived in the Americas.

While people in Cincinnati and areas across the United States have celebrated Juneteenth for decades, it only became a federal holiday in 2021.

In recognition of the holiday, the Juneteenth Jubilee will become an annual daylong takeover of The Banks, featuring live music, programming, vendors and food trucks along Freedom Way. A lineup of staged performances will take place from noon to 6 p.m.

Orlando Brown, Jr.

Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Orlando Brown, Jr., will serve as this year’s featured partner. He’ll deliver a motivational speech followed by a photo and autograph session.

Inside the Freedom Center, the museum is extending its hours of operation from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with free 15-minute histories of Juneteenth and drop-in family activities throughout the day. A focal point of the programming is the continuing legacy of Juneteenth and the ongoing journey to freedom for many. Admission is free all day.

Outdoor events will culminate with a 6:30 p.m. walk to the banks of the Ohio River to symbolize the journey across the river – and into freedom – made by thousands of enslaved people on the Underground Railroad.

The full event schedule is below.

“Juneteenth is a day of jubilation – for the millions of enslaved people who were finally free and for their ancestors and their brothers and sisters of every color who moved one step closer to the promise of freedom this nation was founded on,” said Woodrow Keown, Jr., president and COO of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “We’re inviting the community to join us for this tribute to liberation and celebration of joy.”

Jubilation and community

While the focus of the Juneteenth Jubilee is celebration, it’s also about community. To that end, The Freedom Center is setting up a community market on Freedom Way where guests can support 15 minority- and women-owned businesses. Bookending Freedom Way will be food trucks Sweets & Meats BBQ, Texas Joe Tex Mex, Beverly Ann’s Cookies and Indigenous Chef.

Additionally, a number of community groups and advocates supporting health equity, economic empowerment and voter education and engagement will have information tables available throughout the museum. Participating organizations include Community Engagement Collective, Greater Cincinnati Voter Collaborative, Humana Healthy Horizons of Ohio, the League of Women Voters, Opportunities People Justice Leaders and the Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

The presenting sponsor is Gallagher.

The Jubilee is not connected to the annual Juneteenth Cincinnati festival at Eden Park. That’s taking place June 15.

“The journey to freedom continues for so many, so it’s important that we remember how many people are still waiting for their Juneteenth,” Keown, Jr. said. “June 19 must be a day that we recommit ourselves to the pursuit of inclusive freedom.”

Freedom Center Plaza Lineup

  • Noon to 2 p.m. P. Ann Everson-Price, including selections from her interactive performance, “From Jazz to Motown”
  • 2 p.m. Motivational speech by Orlando Brown, Jr. of the Cincinnati Bengals
  • 2:15 to 4 p.m. DJ Vader Mixx
  • 2:15 to 3 p.m. Orlando Brown, Jr. photo session
  • 4 to 4:45 p.m. Orlando Brown, Jr. autograph session
  • 4 to 6 p.m. 2nd Wind Band
  • 6:00 p.m. Mike Wade & The Nasty Nati Brass Band

Community Market lineup and food trucks

  • Shea Candle Co. LLC
  • Ciara LeRoy/Pretty Strange Design
  • HerCurls&Crafts
  • IMGBAT Jewelry, Art & Engraving
  • Indigo Hippo
  • Gia’s Balloons Buddies LLC
  • The Slay Safe Shop
  • District 78
  • Kitabu Children’s Books
  • Minor Creations LLC
  • René Christian
  • Zuri Ali Art
  • Originalitees
  • Sweets & Meats BBQ
  • Texas Joe Tex Mex
  • Beverly Ann’s Cookies
  • Indigenous Chef

Juneteenth Jubilee

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