Oberlin, OH—The Juneteenth Oberlin Executive Board is proud to present this year’s annual Juneteenth Celebration Festival, “Marching through Station 99 to Freedom” on Saturday, June 17th, 2023, from 9 am to 6 pm. This Juneteenth—originally June 19th, 1865—is considered the date when the last enslaved people in America were freed. Although the rumors of freedom were widespread prior to this, actual emancipation did not come in Texas until June 19th, 1865 two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st, 1863. Juneteenth symbolizes the end of slavery and the beginning of freedom. While its roots are in Texas, Juneteenth has become a federal holiday and a day to celebrate freedom all over the United States. Oberlin’s history of commitment to abolition and the cause of freedom makes the community uniquely qualified to celebrate Juneteenth.
This year’s Juneteenth will include lots of entertainment at the George A. Abram Pavilion on Edison Street. Oberlin Juneteenth is a grassroots organization that is run by everyday working people primarily from the city’s southeast quadrants families that grew up there, when that was the only place Black people could live in Oberlin. We will be working again with the Underground Railroad Center, and we hope that it will be open to the public for viewing. The Juneteenth Parade will take place at 12:00 noon and continue the way it did last year, beginning at Spring Street Park and moving along Pleasant Street to the Roundhouse and the Pavilion on Edison Street. The parade will feature a band led by Oberlin College alum Daniel Spearman, and horsemen, a clown, candy, dancers, and other fun features.
Juneteenth programming will include an opening prayer by Elder Reverend Nevels, a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation read by Oberlin College alum Donnay Edmund. We will have a prolific storyteller, Dr. Mary Ann Harris, who has been telling stories for over 20 years. Children’s activities will be offered all day. We will have a DJ all day. Food vendors and other vendors will be on site for the celebration.
Maafa, also known as the Holocaust of Enslavement, is a national celebration commemorating the pain, suffering, and loss of life of Africans in the Diaspora. The commemoration will be held at Westwood Cemetery in Oberlin from 6:30 pm to 7:30pm on Saturday June 17th, 2023. At the Maafa we will have an opening prayer by Elder Lawrence Nevels. Shirley Chambers will lead us in a selection as she has for over 5 years. Daniel Spearman plays the trumpet for ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing.’ We will acknowledge Ms. Christian and Reverend Dickerson for their years of dedicated service to Juneteenth. We will also observe a moment of silence to recognize the passing of Ms. Linda Isabell (May 28, 1947 - January 13, 2023) and place flowers at the graveyard in her memory.
This year Mrs. Margaret Christian will not be in attendance but per her wishes, flowers will be laid at a variety of graves in a small ceremony after the Maafa Service.