What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth (“June” plus “nineteenth”) is celebrated annually on the 19th of June throughout the United States, with varying official recognition. It is commemorated on the anniversary date of the June 19, 1865 announcement by Union Army General Gordon Granger, proclaiming freedom from slavery in Texas. 

This link to the History Channel's resources provides more

background, context, and history, with photos and videos.

Learn more about this important holiday!

Communities of formerly enslaved people celebrated freedom in a number of ways, prior to the holiday we now call Juneteenth. Especially in western Kentucky, August 8 was celebrated for decades as the recognition of freedom from slavery. 

Freedom from slavery was celebrated by many other names: Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day. 

Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, August 8 Day As other states began to commemorate the freedom of all citizens, including formerly enslaved people, communities throughout the Commonwealth followed suit. Through online research of historical newspapers, the Kentucky Historical Society's online resources, and others, documentation of either Emancipation Day celebrations and Eighth of August Days were publicized as being held in the following Kentucky towns.

This Public Broadcasting Corporation, through KET, presented a video about Eighth of August celebrations of emancipation in Kentucky.

~   Allensville

​~   Beaver Dam

​~   Benham

~   Bowling Green

​~   Columbia

~   Covington

​~   Crofton

​~   Cumberland

​~   Earlington

​~   Elkton

​~   Hartford

~   Hopkinsville​​​​

Kentucky's Legislative Black Caucus,  (8 members - names above) from House & Senate, have organized events for Black History Month (the YouTube video, above presents the 2021 Kentucky Black History celebration hosted by the Legislative Black Caucus). Other events include celebrations for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday, and related educational programs open to all. While following COVID-19 restrictions, citizens can attend all these events. *Rep. Reginald Meeks chairs KY's Legislative Black Caucus.

In 2003, the Caucus hosted its first Black History Month celebration, an event which has continued annually (click on the YouTube video to view the 2021 event). In February of each year the Legislative Black Caucus brings together leaders from around the Commonwealth to reflect on accomplishments made and challenges ahead. For info about these & other legisaltive activities,  contact the Legislative Public Information Office, Robert.Weber@lrc.ky.gov, Capitol Annex Rm., 023, 702 Capital Ave., Frankfort, Ky. 40601; Ph. 502-564-8100  Ask to be placed on their notices of legislative events.

~ Lancaster
~  Louisville​
​~  Lynch
~  Maysville

~  Paducah

​~  Pembroke

​~  Princeton

2021 Juneteenth in Frankfort, Kentucky

Opportunities for Participation & Learning

What are some events in which I can participate to celebrate Juneteenth in Frankfort?

Virtual Juneteenth with: Josephine Sculpture Park; Focus On Race RelationsFor The People; Together Frankfort

On Saturday, June 19, 2021, a group of Frankfort's organizations are holding virtual celebrations of Juneteenth. Josephine Sculpture Park, Focus On Race Relations: Frankfort (F.O.R.R.), For the People Coalition (further described below), and Together Frankfort are planning virtual events for children and adults.  These will be announced shortly. Sign up here to make sure that you are on Together Frankfort's email list to receive announcements

As part of this 2021 Frankfort Juneteenth coalition, Together Frankfort has assembled this information (both historical and current) about Juneteenth, as a resource to the Frankfort and Franklin County, Kentucky, community. We recognize it is only a first step and not nearly complete.  If you have recommended additions, please share them with us through this link. You can also use the link to share your story about how you celebrate Juneteenth.

It is our hope that:

Each . . .  . . individual in Frankfort and Franklin County;

Each  . . . . . family, of any size, in Frankfort and Franklin County;

Each  . . . . . organization, civic group, youth group, or club in Frankfort and Franklin County;

Each  . . . . . church or gathering of those of faith in Frankfort and Franklin County;

Each  . . . . . business or industry, large or small, in Frankfort and Franklin County;

Each  . . . . . elected official, partisan or nonpartisan, elected by those in  Frankfort and Franklin County; 

Each  one and Every one . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

EVERYONE can study, learn, engage in dialogues, share, and take action to address the history of slavery, the Emancipation Proclamation & Kentucky's tortured relationship to emancipation, the 13th Amendment, and the work still needed to right the wrongs of racism. 

We challenge all local organizations, businesses, government officials, churches, as well as state and national entities, to consider actions appropriate to the group. Read. Watch. Listen. Visit. Engage! Here's some ideas for starters! Read books (to children, with children, as a family, as part of a Sunday School class); view online videos referenced, as a family or organization; visit the agencies, the university, or the historical sites, individually, or as a group.

-------------------------- Read. Read. Read-------------------------- 

Visit the Paul Sawyier Library Public Library. Ask to see their books, children's and adult, about Juneteenth. Email in advance & ask about Juneteenth books. Use this link to email Diane Dehoney at the Library.

A number of children's books have been published.  Here are a few:  

Juneteenth Jamboree By Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by Yvonne Buchanan

Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson. Also book is also available, read aloud, on YouTube, thanks to the New Hampshire Humanities Council

Juneteenth (On My Own Holidays (Paperback) by Drew Nelson

Books for adult readers relevant to Juneteenth are numerous.  Here is a reading list to give some ideas.  Again, check at the Paul Sawyier Public Library (email Diane Dehoney) to see which they might have available.

​If you would like to purchase these or any other books related to emancipation, slavery, Juneteenth or related topics, contact our own Poor Richard's Books, in downtown Frankfort. You can call ahead to order (ph. 502-223-8018), or email poorrbooks@aol.com.  Or visit them at 233 W Broadway St., Frankfort, KY.

To read, listen, converse and learn, join a local Book Club - While at Poor Richards, you can view the many selections read by the Frankfort group, Frankfort Anti-Racism Advocates or F.A.R.A. The club meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6:30 pm., with Zoom meetings until otherwise established. Before COVID-19, F.A.R.A. met at the  Paul Sawyier Public Library. To join F.A.R.A.'s book group, click on either name, David Rome or Carol Baughman, to email the folks who facilitate the group; or if you're on Facebook, click on the link and ask to join the Frankfort Anti-Racism Advocates group.

Or, you could work with Poor Richard's Books to establish a local Juneteenth Book Group! Several online Juneteenth book groups are open to online participants.

-------------------------------- Watch  --------------------------------

Watch videos online or check them out from the library! A wealth of educational videos emphasizing lessons to be learned from studying America's involvement in enslavement, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Jim Crow Era, and present-day issues of racial injustice.

The following list only a few of those available online for free, and for purchase from various sources.

Kentucky Educational Television (KET) offers a range of historical shows  & online resources related to Emancipation, slavery, Juneteenth, and related topics. View these with family & friends, or on your own. Click on the links below:

  • Kentucky's Underground Railroad: Passage to Freedom looks at the fugitive slave movement in this 1 hour documentary.

  • Many Kentucky people and sites played fascinating and critical roles in the story of slavery, abolitionism, and the Underground Railroad. Though no actual railroad existed, the term refers to the escape of enslaved African Americans through secret pathways, both with and without assistance. The link above includes an online documentary, resource lists, lesson plans, & numerous articles about Kentucky's involvement with the Underground railroad.

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center - VIEW their online tours, their exhibits, and their expansive online film library

~ Frankfort & Franklin County, KY: 

As home to Kentucky's state government and the Commonwealth's only public HBCU, Kentucky State University, the community provides untold resources about the history of slavery, emancipation, Jim Crow, voter suppression, and other related topics. (A listing of Kentucky's major African American heritage sites & resources OUTSIDE Franklin County, follows this section.) Contact or stop by one of these many state agencies in Frankfort, with specific roles in African American history, emancipation, or related issues:

​1. Kentucky African American Heritage Council (KAAHC) - mission is to identify & promote awareness of significant African American influences on the history & culture of Kentucky & to support & encourage the preservation of KY's African American heritage & historic sites. The commission's 19 members, appointed by the Governor, includes representatives from major state universities, state agencies, community preservation organizations and interested citizens. To be notified of upcoming meetings (open to the public) contact the African American Heritage Coordinator Tressa Brown (click name to email) or call 502-892-3607. The next regularly scheduled meeting is 10 a.m. EDT, Friday, July 9, via Zoom; call & ask to participate by Zoom.

2. Kentucky Black Legislative Caucus - Frankfort is home not just to the state's executive branch government, but also to the legislative and judicial branches. Made up of the People of Color and African-Americans elected to Kentucky's General Assembly, Kentucky's Black Legislative Caucus provides educational and networking opportunities for Frankfort/Franklin County's residence, beyond those in the state's Executive branch of government.

Members of Kentucky's

Black Legislative Caucus

Gerald A. Neal - (Senate)
Reginald Thomas - (Senate)
George Brown Jr. - (House)
**Derrick Graham - (House)
Nima Kulkarni - (House)
*Reginald Meeks - (House)
Attica Scott - (House)
Pamela Stevenson - (House)

​3.  Kentucky Heritage Council - contact or visit the offices for more info about the KY African American Heritage Council, the Kentucky Slavery & Emancipation History Tour, and the MLK Commission. Contact: KY Heritage Council, Barstow House, 410 High St., Frankfort, phone 502.564.7005. Open 8:30AM - 4:30 M- PM, M-F (based on current COVID 19 rules). Call first.

Visit Frankfort's two of the 43 sites on Kentucky's Slavery & Emancipation History Tour. (Did you know Kentucky has a history of slavery & emancipation trail?) After visiting these, read about or travel to 41 other sites around Kentucky.

~  Kentucky African American Civil War Memorial in the

historic Green Hill Cemetery. Frankfort's historically black cemetery

includes the only monument in Kentucky that honors the nearly

25,000 African American Kentuckians who served in the

United States Colored Troops during the American Civil War.

​~  The Frankfort Barracks. The Frankfort Barracks (built 1871) in south Frankfort on Shelby Street, were constructed by local master mason Alexander Brawner & leased to the US military from 1871 - 1876. The atrocities that were committed against freedmen & freedwomen of Kentucky during the reconstruction era were readily documented by the Freedmen’s Bureau. Incidents including the stabbing of former United States Colored Troops soldier George Mukes after he attended an African American political meeting in Frankfort in 1872 were all too common, especially after black men obtained the right to vote. 

4. Kentucky State University - Click here for more information about KSU Celebrating its 135th Anniversary!!

Kentucky State University, the only institution of higher education in Franklin County, KY,  was chartered in 1886, as a small normal school for training of black teachers for Kentucky's black schools. KSU's doors opened on Oct. 11, 1887, with 3 teachers, 55 students, and John H. Jackson as president.

Kentucky State College became a university in 1972, and in 1973 the first graduate students enrolled in its School of Public Affairs.

​5.  Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission, took up the topic of Juneteenth 2021 at its meeting in May 2021. Appointed by the Governor, the Commission members are associated with labor, industry, commerce, government, civil rights, education, youth organizations, sports, fine arts, and entertainment. Two MLK Commission members are from Frankfort: Jamaal Jackson, the Head Men's Basketball Coach at Kentucky State University, and; Katrisha Waldridge, Frankfort's Vice Mayor. MLK Commission meetings are open to the public; agenda is available at www.heritage.ky.gov prior to the meeting. For more, contact Tressa Brown, Kentucky African American Heritage Coordinator, 502-892-3607.

The Commission’s mission is to:

~ Promote the annual January 18 MLK holiday to reflect upon principles of racial equality & nonviolent social change.

~ Encourage appropriate ceremonies & activities relating to the MLK holiday.

~ Promote community service in honor of the principles taught by Dr. King.

~ Provide advice & assistance to local governments & private organizations with respect to observance of the holiday.

~ Promote the MLK holiday for interracial cooperation & youth antiviolence initiatives.

On MLK Day 2021, the Commission announced the statewide MLK Awards, including youth awards. Kentucky students had been challenged to answer the question, through essays, poetry & art, of how MLK would inspire the nation if he were still alive. The following Frankfort/Franklin County students received awards; click on each student's name to read the poem or essay or to see the art work.  Read the poems or essays with your family or civic organization; print out one of the art pieces & share with your organization; conduct your own essay/poem contest!


​Elementary School - Visual Art
3rd Place: Sebastian Barnett, 4th grade, Elkhorn Elementary School

High School - Visual Art
First place: Riley Gordon, 11th grade, Frankfort High; 2nd, Aspen Reynolds, 9th grade, Western Hills High

High School - Poetry

1st place: Jinniah Ali & 2nd place, Hanna Wright, both 11th grade, Frankfort High

Middle School - Essay
2nd & 3rd places, Maggie McDonaldCecily Smith, both 8th grade, Capital Day School

High School - Essay
2nd place, Lucy Cunningham, 10th grade & 3rd place, Diamond Moore, 11th grade, both, Frankfort High