PHOTOSTREAM: Juneteenth Freedom Fest by Anastasia Pantsios

06.19.2021 Juneteenth Freedom Fest

Sat 6/19

Cleveland’s first big citywide Juneteenth Freedom Festival took place on Mall C, celebrating a day that until just this year was seldom observed outside the Black community. The festival gave Clevelanders of all races and ages the chance to learn what this day commemorates. (For those who still don’t know, despite this year’s glut of attention, it’s the day in 1865 when official word was delivered to Texas slaves that they were free, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation).

Put together by the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Ingenuity Cleveland and Karamu, the day- and evening-long event featured food, drink, vendors, games, a roller rink, information booths dispensing information on voting, health care, education and other issues, and lots of art and music. Giant murals were being created on the spot, along with oversized chalk boards where people could add their thoughts. The main stage rocked hard with performances by the astonishing Karamu Singers and vocalist Mariama Whyte (we enjoyed seeing a kid of about 13 singing along with all the lyrics to Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up”), and national recording artist, jazz drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and her band. There was lots of line dancing and many small white dogs in attendance.

A short downpour interrupted the proceeding s about 3:30 but after. that the skies cleared and the day couldn’t have been more perfect.

View the PHOTOSTREAM here.

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