Juneteenth Events Celebrate Its Significance, Incorporate Health Resources
Several Juneteenth celebrations take place Saturday. The city of Columbus and the King Arts Complex host Juneteenth Freedom Day, which will feature food, games, music, health screenings, COVID-19 vaccinations, along with higher education and information sessions. The Phenix Banquet Center hosts its second annual Juneteenth Community Festival.
"This may be a Juneteenth community festival, and Juneteenth is a celebration of Black people's independence from slavery," said Yemi Ogungbadero, banquet center CEO and festival organizer. "But we live around other communities. That is why you see that plural - creating spaces for us all and creating spaces for our communities. I hope to see some kind of effort at connecting with people who may be different from us. I would like to see people connecting, celebrating, and learning."
While the festival will include plenty of entertainment, it will also offer mental health resources and information about sickle cell disease as part of World Sickle Cell Day. According to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the inherited blood disorder affects 1 out of every 365 African-American babies born in the U.S. It's close to home for the first generation Nigerian-American who has a son with sickle cell anemia.
"We can't talk about a culture of people without talking about health," Ogungbadero continued. "You hear Black Lives Matter. Well, Black health also matters. While you're having fun and connecting, you can learn about this disease and see if you are a good candidate for bone marrow donation."
Representatives from Be The Match and the Central Ohio Black Nurses Association will be on hand with additional information at the Phenix Banquet Center's Juneteenth Community Festival.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden signed legislation Thursday establishing a new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery, saying he believes it will go down as one of the greatest honors he has as president. The law makes Juneteenth, or June 19, a federal holiday. The U.S. government announced that most federal government employees will observe the new holiday Friday because June 19 falls on Saturday this year. It's something the United Way of Central Ohio put in place last year.
"Formal recognition of Juneteenth is one of many ways United Way of Central Ohio is taking steps to gain a deeper understanding of the work that still needs to be done to support the Black community," said Lisa Courtice, the organization's president and CEO. "On Juneteenth, and every day, we are committed to creating and maintaining a community where everyone has an equitable opportunity to participate and contribute to their own success. We hope central Ohioans will join us by supporting local Juneteenth celebrations, volunteering in our community, and learning more about the significance of the holiday."
Among the other events, the city of Reynoldsburg partners with the African American Male Wellness Agency for health screenings. Details here:
And if your travels take you up north, the Rock Hall in Cleveland hosts a full day of activities you can find here: