The Oberlin community will celebrate Juneteenth—the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States—with a public festival and picnic on Saturday, June 14, in Tappan Square. The entire celebration is free and open to the public.
The Juneteenth program will begin on Sunday, June 8, with a rededication of Oberlin’s Westwood Cemetery for its 150th anniversary. The city’s only cemetery, it was 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 some former slaves who came to Oberlin on the Underground Railroad.
The commemoration and rededication of Westwood Cemetery will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday and is open to the public.
Juneteenth, or June 19, 1865, is considered the date when the last enslaved people were freed from Texas —a full 2 ½ years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. While its roots are in Texas, Juneteenth has become a day to celebrate freedom all over the United States.
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 festival will take place on Tappan Square from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and will include a parade, a greens and beans cookoff, free food, door prizes, games, and live music. The parade lineup begins at 11:30 a.m. at Eastwood Elementary School, 198 E. College St., followed by a motorcycle rally.
Visit Juneteenth Oberlin for more information about this year’s festival.
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