A Historic Celebration

Parade at Juneteenth Festival (photo: Juneteenth Festival)
Juneteenth Festival (photo: Juneteenth Festival)

Juneteenth was first celebrated on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas, when Union soldiers arrived with the news that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved were now free. Juneteenth continues to be commemorated annually throughout the United States.
Cincinnati's Juneteenth tradition began in 1988 with the Juneteenth Festival. The annual celebration features diverse, family-centered activities such as traditional storytelling, magic acts, games, special food, a book giveaway and music (although in recent years it has taken the celebration virtual to adhere with COVID-19 safety precautions.)

Celebrate Juneteenth Virtually

Cincinnati Juneteenth (photo: Cincinnati Juneteenth Festival)
Cincinnati Juneteenth (photo: Cincinnati Juneteenth Festival)

The Cincinnati Juneteenth Festival is typically held at Eden Park, but instead will be celebrated with a series of events online in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The music and messages of Juneteenth will air locally on WXIX-Fox 19, Community Cable, YouTube and Vimeo from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 20, 2021. This includes the Juneteenth Festival Concert, featuring performances by ZAPP Anthology, Ms. Jaz, Rhythm of Soul Band, Tomeka Mitchell and more. A special Father’s Day concert airs at Noon with Grammy Award-winning Charles Fold Singers and more. Click here for more details on all of this year's events.

Juneteenth Flag Raising Ceremonies

Juneteenth Flag (photo: Cincinnati Juneteenth Festival)
Juneteenth Flag (photo: Cincinnati Juneteenth Festival)
There will be a Cincinnati Juneteenth flag raising ceremony on Tuesday, June 1 at 10 a.m. at Cincinnati Art Museum's Art Climb. The public is invited to attend this free, outdoor event and should gather at the corner of Gilbert Avenue and Eden Park Drive. Buffalo Soldier Reginald B. Murray will raise the flag. Click here for full details. Learn more about the meaning behind the Juneteenth flag here
There will be another flag raising ceremony at City Hall on June 18 at 10 a.m.

Wade in the Water

Black Brigade Monument at Smale Riverfront Park (photo: CincinnatiUSA.com)
Black Brigade Monument at Smale Riverfront Park (photo: CincinnatiUSA.com)
Get involved and bring your dancing shoes in this homage to water and freedom. Everybody is invited to dance along the riverfront in Cincinnati at 3 p.m. on June 13 as part of Wade in the Water. Choreography is provided by Revolution Dance Theater, and practice videos will be posted in advance. Click here to learn more and sign a release to be included.

More Juneteenth Celebrations

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (photo: Louis Rideout)
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (photo: Louis Rideout)


The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center joins nine other leading Black museums and historical institutions from around the country for BLKFREEDOM.org, a digital commemoration of Juneteenth. BLKFREEDOM.org will air an original video presentation at Noon on June 15 that explores the historical influences on the evolution of the Black experience in America using the context of the national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The Freedom Center partnered with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and includes African drums, courtesy of the Gyata Afrakan Drum and Dance Theater, a spoken word performance and narration from Freedom Center historian Carl Westmoreland.

Juneteenth Tasting Event

Findlay Market will be showcasing the delicious tastes of its Black-owned businesses during a Juneteenth Tasting Event on June 19. Live music by Tracy Walker, craft beer and specialty cocktails will also be available. This is a ticketed event, and tickets must be purchased in advance by June 16. Participating venues include Afromeals, Flavors of the Isle, Herban Vegans,~ K&J Seafood, Sweet Mae's Cookie Co. and more!

Mobile Black Wall Street: Juneteenth Festival

Connect with Black-owned businesses and vendors while enjoying craft beer, activities for kids, live music and a street fair vibe during Mobile Black Wall Street taking place at Esoteric Brewing Co. on June 19.

In the Street on Juneteenth Block Party

In the Street on Juneteenth Block Party takes over The Banks downtown on June 18 with music, food, entertainment and more. The event is presented by Paloozanoire, an organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of Midwestern Black professionals.

Juneteenth Kickoff Afterparty

Cincy Black Pride presents its annual Vizazi Torch Awards on June 18 with a Juneteenth kickoff afterparty at Esoteric Brewing Company in Walnut Hills.

Art in Color

Local Black artists are celebrated in the "Art in Color" exhibit at ArtScape Lebanon, which is the first in a series dedicated to the diverse cultural backgrounds of the artists who were born, grew up, or lived in Lebanon and the surrounding area of Warren County. The exhibit opens online and in-person (appointment required) on Juneteenth (June 19).


Written by Julie Brock with updates by Amber Potter.