Juneteenth celebrations will take place Friday and Saturday in Oak Ridge and will include the first communitywide Freedom Day.
Activities on Friday will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Scarboro Community Center, 148 Carver Ave. Activities planned, according to information from organizers, include kickball, spade card/bingo competition, bounce house and other youth events, hot dogs and hamburgers and other food, and fun and games for all, along with music.
On Saturday, the Juneteenth Festival will get underway at noon on Hampton Road and continue until 8 p.m. with some 15-plus food, drink, clothing and other apparel vendors at the historic Old Scarboro School Site. There will be carnival games/face painting, live gospel music, dramatic dance and spoken word along with R&B music.
There will be special parking for those with handicapped-accessible needs.
Juneteenth marks the date − June 19, 1865 − when the last enslaved people in the United States learned they were free.
For generations, Black Americans have recognized the end of one of the darkest chapters in U.S. history with joy, in the form of parades, street festivals, musical performances or cookouts.
The U.S. government was slow to embrace the occasion. It was only in 2021 – thanks in large part to the efforts of Fort Worth educator/activist Opal Lee – that President Joe Biden signed a bill passed by Congress to set aside Juneteenth, or June 19th, as a federal holiday.
Juneteenth is a blend of the words June and 19th. The holiday has also been called Juneteenth Independence Day, Freedom Day, second Independence Day and Emancipation Day.
Most U.S. states now hold celebrations honoring Juneteenth as a holiday or a day of recognition, like Flag Day. Juneteenth is a paid holiday for state employees in Texas, New York, Virginia, Washington, and now Nevada as well. Hundreds of companies give workers the day off.
“Oak Ridge holds this day of churches, organizations, and the Oak Ridge community coming together as an opportunity for activism and education to unite,” said Tyler Mitchell, citywide coordinator. Mitchell thanked the area church community, especially the Scarboro community churches, in the implementation.
Bring lawn chairs and tents for the afternoon event. “This is an opportunity to remember the sacrifices that were made for freedom in the United States − especially in these racially and politically charged days,” Mitchell said.
This article originally appeared on Oakridger: Oak Ridge Tennessee Juneteenth celebration June 16-17 2023