Freedom Center celebrates Juneteenth with evening event, spoken word performances and more

Press Release


MEDIA CONTACT: Cody Hefner (513) 608-5777,

Freedom Center celebrates Juneteenth with evening event, spoken word performances and more

Free admission Sunday, June 19

CINCINNATI — The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is organizing a weekend celebration of Juneteenth. The weekend will recognize winners from the museum’s scholarship contest, include an evening of spoken word performances and see the release of a video produced through the partnership of ten museums across the country. The Freedom Center will also offer free admission on Sunday, June 19.

Juneteenth commemorates the moment when Union General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865 with news the Civil War had ended and the enslaved people were now free. The date, now a federal holiday, came more than two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

“Juneteenth has been recognized as a day of affirmation that Black people are, and of right ought to be, free,” said Woodrow Keown, Jr., president and COO of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “It’s both a day of celebration and a reminder of what millions endured in this country to realize the promises made in the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation. Today, we use it as a moment to rededicate ourselves to finishing the work of eradicating the systemic unfreedoms that linger from chattel slavery.”

As part of the Juneteenth weekend celebration, the Freedom Center will showcase the winners of its scholarship contest in a ceremony at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 18. The winners were selected based on their video submissions answering the prompt: What kind of ancestor will you be? The prompt acknowledged the influence of Black ancestors who endured against slavery, inspiring future generations to pursue social justice for all. The contest winner received a $1,000 scholarship with two runners up receiving $750 and $250. The scholarship was funded through the support of PNC Bank.

The Freedom Center will also host a Juneteenth Evening at the Museum Saturday, June 18 with a night of spoken poetry. Poets will perform pieces on the ideas of liberty, freedom, equality and justice in the Freedom Center’s Grand Hall from 7 to 9 p.m. Guests are also invited to explore the museum during those evening hours. The evening is free but advance registration is required. The evening is sponsored by Gallagher Insurance.

Admission to the Freedom Center will also free on Sunday, June 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. as part of Fifth Third Community Days. Artist Brent Billingsley will be leading a chalk community art project outside from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and a variety of activities and information stations inside will include a mini lecture on the history and legacy of Juneteenth at 12:30 p.m., dramatic readings and story time at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and a performance by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s MAC Music Innovator Program featuring the Mark Lomax Quartet at 2 p.m. Advance ticket reservations are recommended but walkup tickets are available.

For the third consecutive year, the Freedom Center is again participating in the multi-museum partnership, which has brought together 11 museums to explore the U.S. Constitution. The museums collaborated on a video titled “We the People,” compiling videos from the participating institutions. Each museum selected a theme from the Constitution to guide their contribution. The Freedom Center’s theme of “perseverance” reflects the way we the people have persevered, enduring the hardships of enslavement to see the day of freedom. The video features an arrangement of the song “Free” from inside the Freedom Center’s Slave Pen and an original song from Destiny L performed among empowering quotes from historical figures in the Escape Gallery. The video will be released on on Sunday, June 19 at 1 p.m.


About the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened in August 2004 on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Since then, more than 1.3 million people have visited its permanent and changing exhibits and public programs, inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom. Two million people have utilized educational resources online at, working to connect the lessons of the Underground Railroad to inform and inspire today’s global and local fight for freedom. Partnerships include Historians Against Slavery, Polaris Project, Free the Slaves, US Department of State and International Justice Mission. In 2014, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center launched a new online resource in the fight against modern slavery,

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