CLEVELAND (June 7, 2023) – As summer begins and the Juneteenth holiday approaches, locals can learn about the city’s Black culture, important contributors, and Cleveland’s role in bringing enslaved people to freedom. Clevelanders can commemorate the 1865 emancipation of enslaved Africans in the United States at various festivals, cultural events, and historic sites.
Cleveland Juneteenth Freedom Fest (June 16-17): In its third year, the MetroHealth Cleveland Juneteenth Freedom Fest will expand to two days in 2023. The free celebration kicks off Friday with fireworks over Downtown Cleveland at sundown. On Saturday, a family-friendly celebration on Mall C will feature performances from Karamu House, Djapo Cultural Arts Institute, and Hubbs Groove. The event includes interactive art demonstrations, rollerskating, a Vendor Village, and Soul Food Row spotlighting Black businesses. Full details are available online.
Juneteenth at Dunham Tavern (June 10): MidTown Cleveland will host a free Juneteenth Celebration at the historic Dunham Tavern Museum. The community-driven event will promote unity through music, dancing, spoken word poetry, and other performances. There will also be arts and crafts and other family-friendly activities.
Juneteenth Gospel Performance & Panel (June 15): Hosted on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Union Home Mortgage Plaza, this event will feature a performance from The Christian Brothers and a panel discussion about gospel music’s influence on rock and roll. The event is free but requires tickets to be reserved in advance.
Juneteenth African Dance & Drum Fest (June 17-18): Presented by Djapo Cultural Arts Institute, this weekend-long event celebrates Juneteenth through art, music, dance, history, and culture. Guest instructors will teach a variety of traditional African dance styles in classes held June 17 and 18 at the Pivot Center for Art, Dance & Expression. Saturday night’s inaugural “Juneteenth Night of Unity” will offer an evening of reflection, remembrance, and celebration. More information and registration are available online.
Mx. Juneteenth: A Black & Queer Liberation Celebration (June 17): Mx. Juneteenth celebrates freedom and community with a BLK PunX Press Studio event. The celebration will feature live music, drag performances, local vendors, and educational workshops, all while providing a liberatory space and environment of respect for all attendees. Admission is donation-based and can be secured online.
Cozad-Bates House (open Saturdays, noon-4 p.m.): The only surviving pre-Civil War structure in University Circle, the Cozad-Bates House is home to an interpretive center focusing on the neighborhood’s history during the abolitionist movement. Residents can tour the center on Saturdays or walk the house grounds anytime. The outdoor space offers art and educational signage highlighting the local people and places of the Underground Railroad.
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