Juneteenth, short for June Nineteenth, is a federal holiday celebrating the emancipation of all slaves in the United States in 1865.
The celebration is the oldest African-American holiday and is all about freedom in every sense of the word, said Lindsey Corbitt, event producer for the Tulsa Juneteenth Festival.
“For us at Tulsa Juneteenth, freedom goes into every aspect of life — you have to be free in everything you do and be free to be who you are,” Corbitt said. “We want to provide people with different perspectives on what freedom is, while focusing on our arts, our culture, and all the different things that African Americans bring to this crucible in the United States”
There’s no shortage of events in Tulsa this year to commemorate the Juneteenth celebration. From the Tulsa Juneteenth Festival to Dr. Leon Rollerson’s annual Juneteenth celebration, people from all walks of life and walks of life are invited to attend these events and celebrate what it means to be free.
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Tulsa June 19 Festival
For its eighth year, the Tulsa Juneteenth Festival will span three days: Thursday, June 16 through Saturday, June 18. The celebration – which is free to enter – will include live musical performances, art exhibits, vendors, food, classes and workshops, all in the historic Greenwood neighborhood in downtown Tulsa. .
The Juneteenth festivities kick off Thursday night with a block party from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. The party will include performances by artists like Quentin Marcellis, Kode Ransom and more on Greenwood Avenue. Customers can enjoy produce from local vendors and food trucks while listening to the music.
“We really want to showcase local talent to show people that these are the artists they should be watching,” Corbitt said. “We love being able to celebrate with them and give them a stage to show off their talent.”
Beginning Thursday from 4-7 p.m. (and continuing Friday and Saturday), an art exhibit, “Wide Eyed Wonders,” will be open to the public at the Zarrow Center for Arts and Education. The exhibition will feature visual artists and creative workshops.
“It’s really about being free to think about different things and expanding your imagination beyond what you see on a daily basis,” Corbitt said.
At the downtown OSU-Tulsa campus, the Tulsa Juneteenth Festival will host a homeowner’s workshop from 3-6 p.m. to help prospective or current homeowners obtain housing-related information and resources.
“It’s information from real estate agents, banks and other organizations that offer things to homeowners or someone looking to buy a home,” Corbitt said. “If we can bring more knowledge to our community members and have a bigger impact, then that’s exactly what we want to do.”
From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., a variety of musical acts will perform, including artists like DJ View, Tea Rush and the Wise Men.
At 9:10 p.m., head to the main stage to attend one of the festival’s headliners, Con Funk Shun. The group is known for their funky R&B sound and songs such as “Ffun”, “Straight From The Heart” and “Love’s Train”, which was recently covered by Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars of Silk Sonic.
The celebrations will begin early Saturday with a sunrise run from 5:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. in Guthrie Green.
Guests can return to Guthrie Green at 8am for a feel-good experience called “I Am Here”, presented by Native Creative. The experience will consist of affirmations, journaling, guided meditation, breathwork, yoga, tai chi and more.
“We want to show people how they can stay mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally healthy in their bodies,” Corbitt said. “The goal is to become present in who you are in that moment – to enjoy those moments and treat yourself well within them.”
Festival goers are encouraged to bring their families to the celebrations. Tulsa Juneteenth has organized a children’s zone within the festival, which will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Kids can enjoy live musical performances, food, a shootout basketball challenge, a three-on-three basketball tournament, jump rope, and the Tulsa Juneteenth Buck Down, a cheerleader dance showcase. TTCU Federal Credit Union will also be handing out $50 vouchers to teens at the event so they can set up their own bank accounts.
“Children are a big part of our community and our future, so we wanted to create a space where they can come together and feel like they have a part of the festival to themselves,” Corbitt said. “We’re trying to continue our healthy lifestyle initiative, so this experience is all about that mindset – growing kids and bringing them in as much as possible.”
On Saturday night, the festival will feature more musical performances from artists like Omaley B, the Soul Cool Band and others. At 9:10 p.m., the festival’s second headliner, Dru Hill, will take the stage to perform hits like “How Deep Is Your Love” and “Beauty.”
“The whole point of this festival is to foster a sense of community,” Corbitt said. “The more people who can come together and celebrate together safely in a fun environment, the better.”
For more information about the Tulsa Juneteenth Festival, to donate, or to register for a VIP festival experience, visit tulsajuneteenth.org.
Some events may require pre-registration. To register, search for “Tulsa Juneteenth Festival” on eventbrite.com.
Greenwood Cultural Center
Oklahoma jazz musician and entrepreneur Leon Rollerson is hosting a June 16 celebration at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 16 at the Greenwood Cultural Center. The event will be hosted by Brandy Hammons and former City Council member Joe Williams.
“This event is going to be something very special,” Rollerson said.
Events include the Juneteenth Celebration of Oklahoma, the Greenwood Cultural Center Recognition, the Dr. Leon Rollerson Annual Juneteenth Celebration (the longest running Juneteenth celebration in Tulsa), the Dr. Leon Rollerson Diamond Awards and a fundraiser for medical treatment by Rollerson.
The event is designed to recognize musicians, educators, veterans and other significant figures who have contributed to Black history in Tulsa, said Victoria Ellington, president of the Juneteenth Celebration of Oklahoma.
Rollerson said he wanted to specifically honor the people who helped make Tulsa’s Black Wall Street neighborhood famous, as well as the musicians who developed the musical style known as “Tulsa Sound.”
Among the many honored will be Ronnie and Robert Wilson of the GAP Band, former Senator Maxine Horner, who designed the Jazz Hall of Fame and authored several state bills to support Oklahoma’s minority communities, and the former State Representative Don Ross, creative pioneer. of the Greenwood Cultural Center.
For more information visit rollersonproductions.com or email [email protected]
The Claremore History Museum celebrates its Black History exhibit with Gerome Riley on preserving black history in Claremore and the importance of freed status with the Cherokee Nation. The free event is from 4-6 p.m. Saturday at the museum, 121 N. Weenonah Ave.
Editor’s Note: This story was edited after publication to include an additional June 19 themed event.
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