This Sunday marks a historic holiday. On top of the many reasons to come together and celebrate thanks to Father’s Day, June 19th also observes Juneteenth which commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States.
While only recognized officially as a federal holiday in 2021, Juneteenth is considered the oldest national celebration of African American freedom since its origins over 150 years ago in Galveston, Texas. Today, the holiday has spread to not only encompass the emancipation of African Americans but further emphasize the education and achievement of the African American community as well as being a time for reflection, rejoicing, self-assessment, and self-improvement.
Marking not only the 157th year of the holiday, but June 19th also marks the first year of a new Indiana University tradition – an official celebration of Juneteenth. Speaking to the importance of such a change, IU President Pamela Whitten states that “taking time to reflect and engage in the long-standing traditions of Juneteenth is an opportunity to acknowledge our past, fully engage in our present, and look forward with hope and optimism together.” Whitten goes further to state that “it also serves as a reminder of our university’s dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as our ongoing efforts to make our campuses welcoming, supportive, and safe spaces for everyone.”
The university as a whole will recognize this important day of freedom and independence annually for the first time on Monday, June 20. IU offices will be closed and such closure will be a paid university holiday for our faculty and staff.
Ways to celebrate:
- Indy Book Fest & Juneteenth Celebration
- The Center for Black Literature & Culture’s 5th Annual Indy Book Fest and Juneteenth Celebration will offer a glimpse of the African American experience through arts, literature, and storytelling on June 18 at Central Library.
- Indy Juneteenth Festival
- The Eiteljorg Celebrates Juneteenth with community partners, performances, food, art, and free museum admission. Performances will be held outside under The Sails, weather permitting. Enjoy family activities throughout the day. No ticket reservation required.
- Indy Juneteenth Parade and Festival
- Hosted by Indy Juneteenth Inc., this festival celebrates the emancipation of slavery with games, live music, food from all over the globe, a parade, vendors, and so much more.
- Indiana Juneteenth Freedom Music Festival
- A celebratory concert at the Old National Centre featuring What the Funk Tour including Average White Band, Bar-Kays, Zapp, and Trouble Funk.
- Juneteenth Foodways Festival
- Juneteenth Foodways Festival, made possible through the generosity of Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, features an interactive food experience highlighting the hidden history of diverse Hoosiers from the 1860s through the 1890s from the perspective of African-Americans. It shares Black foodways’ contributions to American culture with a focus on Dolly Johnson, the White House Chef hired by President Harrison.
- Madam Walker Legacy Center Block Party
- Join in celebrating the 95th anniversary of the Madam Walker Legacy Center with a variety of musical performances and family-friendly activities during the Juneteenth weekend.
- Democracy Hypocrisy: The Red, White, and Blues of Freedom
- This one-act play is written by Vernon A. Williams, Rain Wilson, and Ms. Latrice and produced by Williams. The production will premiere between two iconic national celebrations of “liberation” – Juneteenth and Independence Day – offering an exhilarating and authentic portrayal of the Africana experience through spoken word, dance, music, song, and drama. The play pays homage to soldiers of the struggle and candidly confronts America’s dilemma and hypocrisy.
For more information as well as resources to learn more about Juneteenth and its history, please visit: https://www.indypl.org/blog/for-adults/juneteenth.