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Press Release


Oberlin Juneteenth | P.O. Box 604 | Oberlin, OH 44074


Oberlin, OHThe Juneteenth Oberlin Executive Board is proud to present this year’s annual Juneteenth Celebration Festival, “Marching to Freedom through Changing of the Guards” on Saturday, June 15th,2024 from 9 am to 6 pm.  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 before 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 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 the Round House will be open 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 and candy, motorcycles, old school cars, dancers, and other fun features. 

The Juneteenth programming will include an opening prayer and a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation 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 7:30 pm on Saturday, June 15th, 2024.  At the Maafa, we will have an opening prayer. Shirley Chambers will lead us in selection as she has for over 5 years. Daniel Spearman plays the trumpet for ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ and flowers will be laid at a variety of graves in a small ceremony after the Maafa Service.

Mrs. Margaret Christian will not be in attendance due to health reasons this year, but the Juneteenth Committee will be giving her flowers of appreciation for all her many, many years of dedication to Juneteenth through her outstanding knowledge of past and present Oberlin history. She was and will always be the backbone of Juneteenth, we will always appreciate her.

As we continue the march to freedom, this year it is based on “Changing of the Guards” which is taking out and bringing in. We will be bringing out the older generations and appreciating them for all their hard work and dedication through the past years and bringing in the new generation to continue this march to freedom. Introducing the changing of the Guards, we will be acknowledging this year as Ms. Adie Sharpley last year for coordinating the Juneteenth festival, she will continue to be present for Maafa and Potters field, but the festival will be under a new chairperson and team. Valerie Lawson will be taking over as chairperson with attendance of the new generation natives: Gail Abrams Allen, Fijabi Julien-Gallam, LaKrisha Harris, and Alesha Caine. If anyone would be interested in joining in the success of planning and coordinating Juneteenth feel free to contact Valerie Lawson, The community picnic will not be in attendance as well this year due to the community center getting set up after their move, but they will be present next year in June 2025.

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