Celebrating Juneteenth

We encourage you to take part in celebrating Juneteenth and to learn more about Juneteenth and its impact.

Presidential Initiative Statement on Juneteenth

Juneteenth has grown in scope and breadth over the years and is now celebrated widely across the country, including on our campus and more broadly in the town of Oberlin. These celebrations exemplify a commitment to celebrate, in moments of pure joy, Black people’s right to live as free human beings. Despite the ongoing challenges of a nation still wrestling with a recognition of this right, Juneteenth allows African Americans to reflect on the resilience of their ancestors, even as they take up the charge, as Americans, to maintain a sustained conviction to equity and social justice.

Meredith M. Gadsby
Special Assistant to the President on Racial Equity and Diversity
Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Comparative American Studies
Cochair of Presidential Initiative on Racial Equity and Diversity

Bill Quillen
Dean of the Conservatory
Cochair of Presidential Initiative on Racial Equity and Diversity

Juneteenth Events

Juneteenth Oberlin 2023: Marching Through Station 99 to Freedom

9 a.m.-6 p.m. saturday, June 17; corner of south main and edison street; free

Sankofa bird.Join the Oberlin community in its annual celebration of Juneteenth. The day begins with reflections and muic starting at 9 a.m., including a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation by Donnay Edmund ’16. Noon marks the start of a parade that begins at Spring Street Park. Activities—including horseback rides led by the Freedom Riders and music by Daniel Spearman ’16 and Friends and a DJ—continue until 6 p.m. Additional info is available on the Juneteenth Oberlin website.

Beginning at 6:30 p.m., the festivities will move to Westwood Cemetery for a Maafa ceremony—honoring all those who have been enslaved—and a potter’s field service. The city’s only cemetery, Westwood opened on Morgan Street in 1864, and it is a final resting place of a number of Black and white soldiers who died in the Civil War, as well as former slaves who came to Oberlin via the Underground Railroad.

On June 8, 2004, Oberlin City Council passed a resolution establishing Juneteenth as an officially recognized day of commemoration and celebration for the city of Oberlin. Juneteenth Oberlin was incorporated that same year to facilitate the community recognition, celebration, promotion, and understanding of Oberlin’s officially declared and established Juneteenth holiday.

The Rescue of John Price: A Dramatization of the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue by Ifa Bayeza

7 p.m. friday, June 23; Wurtzel Theater; free

7 p.m. saturday, June 24; Wurtzel Theater; free

7 p.m. sunday, June 25; Wurtzel Theater; free

1858. At the height of the frenzy over the Fugitive Slave Act, 16-year-old John Price makes his way from the depths of Kentucky slavery over the frozen Ohio River to the abolitionist sanctuary and utopian college town of Oberlin.  When slave catchers threaten to kidnap John back into slavery, a crowd of hundreds of Oberlin and Wellington citizens led by a revolutionary group of Rescuers prevent his capture and speed him on to his quest for true freedom. Based on actual historical events, the inside story of “the little town that started the Civil War.”

Learn more and register to attend using the Oberlin events calendar.


“Racism, as an institution, is interwoven into the fabric of American culture.”

Associate Professor Meredith Gadsby in “Here’s Why Juneteenth Matters,” Essence.com.

With around 2,500 printed titles, the Anti-Slavery Collection at Oberlin College Libraries provides significant value to researchers of American anti-slavery movements.

Historical photo of 20 men standing together, holding their hats.
The Oberlin Rescuers at Cuyahoga County Jail, April 1859.
Photo credit: Courtesy of the Oberlin College Archives