Juneteenth Press Release

Oberlin, OH—The Juneteenth Oberlin Executive Board is ​proud to present this year’s annual Juneteenth Celebration Festival, “African Americans: The Struggle, The Fight for Freedom, And Still Yet Invisible” ​on Saturday, June 19th, 2021, from 9am 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, 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 day to celebrate freedom all over the United States. Oberlin’s history of commitment to abolition and the cause of freedom make the community uniquely qualified to celebrate Juneteenth.                              


This year we will have a program that follows covid protocols. We will have booths on the tree lawn curb only around Tappan square. People will have to remain in their cars but they will be able to  drive up to the booths (which will have plastic shields for covid safety). Masks are required for everyone. The vendors will be masked, have a plastic shield, and hand sanitizer. Festival goers can point to what they want from their car and the vendors will get it for them.


We are going to do a drive by festival with a parade and drive through vendors. People will drive through with their masks to view the parade and order from food trucks. We are going to have traffic movers who will be moving the traffic. This year we will only have food trucks. The food truck vendors will have masks, a plastic shield, and hand sanitizer.  The food will not be near the parade, for covid safety, it will be on Professor st. Safety protocols means that people will have to be six feet apart while in line ordering food.


During the parade each group is separated by cars, there will be more than 6 feet distance between performers. There will be no stage or live performances other than the parade. The performers can stop for one minute and do a little performance at the end and then the performers will have to disband once they cross Main street. People will only be able to watch the parade from their cars. There will be minimal people on the streets, and we are not encouraging foot traffic.


On the same day at 6:30pm we will have The Maafa Ceremony and Potters Field event entitled Celebrating African American Women of Oberlin in the Journey from Bondage and as Pioneers to Freedom: “The Making of Herstory Rooted in the Emergence of the Oberlin Community.”


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. This year  “African Americans: The Struggle, The Fight for Freedom, And Still Yet Invisible” commemoration will be held at Westwood Cemetery in Oberlin at 6:30 pm - 7:30pm Saturday June 19th, 2021. We will have music, hymns, and a libation. We are going to go out and clean the graves of the African Americans buried at Potter’s Field and put reefs on their graves. We will dedicate a headstone to one of the African Americans that sometimes were buried behind the estate they worked for. We commemorate African Americans buried in Potter's Field by placing flower reefs to recognize the movers and shakers who owned businesses in Oberlin, and were prominent Black members of the Oberlin Community. The Maafa will focus on the more present day African Americans - focusing on the 20th century.            


This year the Potter’s Field Memorial Service will be entitled  “Celebrating African American Women of Oberlin in the Journey from Bondage and as Pioneers to Freedom: “The Making of Herstory Rooted in the Emergence of the Oberlin Community.” There will be a small flower ceremony on Saturday, June 19th, 2021 at 7:30 pm - dusk. A dedication of the Potter’s Field gravestone will take place at the Maafa remembrance ceremony. We will also honor and share the histories of these African American women in a booklet.


This year the Chairwoman of Juneteenth will be Ms. Valerie Lawson who is an Oberlin native. We are a community festival and would like to acknowledge the following organizations for their support; City of Oberlin, local churches who are providing a lot of in-kind support this year, the Oberlin Rotary, Oberlin Public Library, and the Oberlin Business Partnership, and Oberlin College Alumni. We are currently looking for volunteers and booth vendors to make this a successful community festival. Booth applications will be available online only (please download and send to the P.O Box).Please send a completed booth application to M.P.O. 604 Oberlin, OH 44074. For additional information please contact Ms. Valerie Lawson by phone at ​440-774-4327​.

                                     [Juneteenth Oberlin, Inc. is a nonprofit organization.]