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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.
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 In 1866, the formerly enslaved people of Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky organized "Emancipation Day" celebrations. 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 report (a pdf. file) contains newspaper articles of Proclamation Day Celebrations, 8th of August Celebrations, and Juneteenth events held in Kentucky since 1866.
~ Beaver Dam
~ Bowling Green
June 13 - 19, 2020
Josephine Sculpture Park (JSP), partnering with several community organizations, groups, and artists, provided a week-long celebration of Juneteenth to elevate the voices and the art of African-Americans and people of color. In the video at left, JSP founder Melanie VanHouten discusses the plans. The River City Drum Corp, shown at left, was one of many live performances elevating the voices and arts.
On Friday of that week, as the week's culminating event, Focus on Race Relations: Frankfort (FORR) & Sculpture Park (JSP) presented the Juneteenth Frankfort/Franklin County Round Table on Facebook Live.
Click on the names of the organizations & speakers. Join one or more of these groups. Invite 1 of these organizations to speak to your group (click on names).
Round table, which was moderated by F.O.R.R. founder, Ed Powe, included these participants:
• Dr. Crystal deGregory — Historian, Storyteller, Cultural Communicator
• Mary Hamilton — Focus on Race Relations
• Cathy Thomas — National Association for the Advancement of Colored People - Frankfort Chapter
• Katima McMillan — For The People Coalition
• Gerry Seavo James — Founder of the Explore Kentucky Initiative, social artist and storyteller
• Karen Armstrong-Cummings — Together Frankfort
This year, we encourage individuals, families, churches, organizations, businesses, government officials to conduct your own Juneteenth event. Post them on this link so we can share the information with others!
River City Drum Corp Juneteenth Compilation: JSP week-long Juneteenth Celebration
Jun 19, 2020
Molly Jarboe, Erik Jarboe, Jordon Smith-Willis, Katima McMillan, Barbara Petty, Trish Freeman & Natalee Cleveland
are members of the
For the People Coalition. (Photo by Hannah Brown for FRANK. MAGAZINE, Oct. 1, 2020, Frankfort KY)
Who has celebrated Juneteenth in Frankfort, KY?
June 5 & June 19. Racial unrest around the nation touched the lives and hearts of many Frankfort youth. Several of them got together and organized a Black Lives Matter rally on June 5 in Frankfort, that was attended by over 5,000 (according to estimates). Moreover, the youth created an organization from the those working together to elevate issues of racism and inequity. (See photo above which identifies key organizers).
Later in October of 2020, Hannah Brown, with the local monthly publication, the FRANK. MAGAZINE, interviewed the organizers of the rally & discussed long term plans. By that time, the group had formed a nonprofit organization, the For the People Coalition, with a Facebook page followed by over 1,000 people. Katima McMillan Smith-Willis, along with Nataleé Cleveland, Barbara Petty, Trish Freeman, discussed that they were fed up with the current racial tensions in the country. Following the rally, they worked hard to identify ways to educate others about racial issues. Barbara Petty assembled a pamphlet about Juneteenth & distributed it in the community.
“It gave information about Juneteenth — what it is and who it’s about,” Petty said. “In the last couple of months, I’ve done more reading and writing than I’ve done in a long time. It’s good because I have people charging me up in a way I have never been charged up before.”
During the interview with Brown, Cleveland emphasized that the work of For the People Coalition was not just the one-time rally event.
“This is not just a movement,” she said. “This is going to stick around. This is the future. The coalition is looking to educate wherever we can fit it in — to grow our movement.” Several of the coalition members have been involved in organizing Juneteenth programs in 2021 as well!
Donna Phillips & Mary Kozak talk to Good Morning Kentucky's Kellie Wilson about the play, "Blow Ye Trumpet Blow," which was performed June 5 & 6, 2011
at Camp Nelson, Kentucky.
2010 - 2019 (Years listed in descending order)
In 2011, a community group the South Frankfort neighborhood organized the "Juneteenth Family Fun in the Park!" at Dolly Graham City park on River Street. The weekend events included the following:
June 17 - June 19, 2011 - Exclusive Events - The weekend celebration focused on past, present, and future.
Friday, June17, 2011
An original play performed on Friday night. "Blow ye the Trumpet Blow" a two act play written by Donna Phillips & Georgie Riddell, Commissioned by the Camp Nelson Foundation. An interview with author and performer Donna Phillips, by Lexington's Channel 36 Television, can be seen in the video to the right.
Synopsis: During The American Civil War, brave African-American men, women and children escaped to union camps for a chance at freedom. They were joined by the Pleasant Hill Singers, who performed "Music of the Black Shakers".
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Juneteenth Family Fun in the park!! Dolly Graham Park, in Frankfort, KY, Juneteenth was celebrated from noon until dusk: food, games, and crafts were available. Music all day by local D.J's. Food Network's "Bar-B-Que Throw Down" Competitor, Wendell Thomas sold his prize winning B-B-Q! Other activities during the celebration included a cake walk, and games with prizes for children.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Good old Fashion "Gospel Sing" Down by the Riverside.
In 2010, citizens in South Frankfort held the 1st Annual Juneteenth Celebration for Frankfort.
Conversation with Peyton Scott Russell & Melanie VanHouten:
JSP week-long 2020 Juneteenth Celebration