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With Jubilance: Celebrating Juneteenth in Louisville

A banner for the Juneteenth Jubilee Celebration hangs from a lamp post in downtown Louisville.
J. Tyler Franklin
A banner for the Juneteenth Jubilee Celebration hangs from a lamp post in downtown Louisville.

Juneteenth commemorates the day enslaved people in Texas were informed of their freedom two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. Louisville will celebrate this year with history, festivals and community.

For decades, the holiday was celebrated mainly in Texas and in Black communities across the country, but in June 2021 President Joe Biden signed a law recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday.

In Louisville, Juneteenth celebrations have been happening in various ways for a while. The city organizes a multi-day Juneteenth Jubilee Celebration.

“Although Juneteenth has a painful history, it's so important to celebrate the strength and resilience Juneteenth represents as well as the progress we have made and as we work urgently to make even more progress,” said Mayor Craig Greenberg at a news conference.

Greenberg said part of that forward progress included continuing to support Black businesses, increased access to equitable health care, affordable housing and more.

Some of those goals are reflected in the events happening around the city in observance of Juneteenth.

Here are ways to celebrate Juneteenth in Louisville this year:

The Fannie Lou Hamer Story

The story of women's and civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer will be told through song and dance during a one-woman play at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage.

Hamer played a key role in the advancement of voting rights for Black people. She served as vice chair for the Freedom Democratic Party and represented the organization at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.

Date: June 17, 8 p.m. -10:30 p.m.

Melannaire Marketplace: Ancestor’s Dream Juneteenth Market

The Melannarie Marketplace brings Black vendors together to make their goods more accessible to the public. The open-air market is at 4th Street Live.

In addition to vendors, there will be guest speakers, food trucks entertainment and a kids' area.

Dates: June 17 & 18, 12 p.m. - 6 p.m.

Louisville Juneteenth Festival

Back for the fourth year in a row, the Louisville Juneteenth Festival brings vendors, food and entertainment. The festival is the culmination of a four-day series of events all targeted at serving, supporting and uniting the Black community.

The festival is free and open to the public and will be held at the Belvedere, rain or shine.

Dates: June 18, 3 p.m. - 10 p.m.

Let’s Talk | Bridging the Divide: Load in Nine Times: United States Colored Troops, An Evening with former Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker

Former Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker will debut a collection of poetry centered around Black troops' place in the Civil War. In addition to reading some of his works, Walker will present the photos and archival documents he used to inspire his writing.

The free event is at the Frazier History Museum where Walker’s writing will be displayed in the “Commonwealth” exhibition.

Date: June 19, 6 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.

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