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Louisville’s Juneteenth Festival continues to grow

A sign at Louisville's third annual Juneteenth Festival reads "Do Something Black Today."
A display at the third annual Juneteenth Festival in Louisville this weekend.

The final day of Louisville’s third annual Juneteenth Festival brought scores of area residents to the Belvedere Sunday.

The celebration included food, music and more than 70 local Black vendors, whose booth fees were sponsored by the Louisville Urban League.

Ericka Seward, executive assistant and project manager of the festival this year, said it’s a time for fellowship and to rejoice in African Americans’ freedom. 

Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when, in Galveston, Texas, the remaining enslaved people learned they had been emancipated – several years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. 

Louisville’s first festival was held in 2020, amid a summer of demonstrations following the police killing of Breonna Taylor

“Juneteenth means a lot to me, because our freedom means a lot…and it celebrates our freedom,” Seward said. “The second thing is, we have something that is ours, a holiday that is ours. We share it with everybody, but it's ours.”

Attendees laughed and talked as they perused the arts and craft booths, grabbed snacks from food trucks, and posed for photos in front of the “Juneteenth” and “Do Something Black Today” displays. 

Cocoa Durrett was among the vendors. The 16-year-old was selling her art – painting on canvas, keychains and stickers. Her business is named Woozgly

Durrett said she appreciated the support and chance to showcase her work – she’s been making art since she was a child, and isn’t planning on stopping. 

“This is what I want to do when I grow up; I don't really want to do anything else,” she said. “So to have this opportunity to do this – to grow and learn stuff, it means a lot.”

Isaiah Negron was at the festival selling pieces from his clothing line, YAYAV. The artist uses his proceeds to help the community, including children and those experiencing homelessness.

“What the brand stands for is to give back and to spread love and to show that,” he said, adding that “I feel like the kids [are] the next step up. [They are] the next generation, so they're definitely the ones that need our attention and need our guidance.”

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.