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Columbus’ 25th annual juneteenth celebrates freedom for all

The Lantern
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A gospel group celebrates Juneteenth in Genoa Park. Credit: Courtesy of AW Photography

The Columbus community is invited to the Juneteenth Ohio Festival at Genoa Park Saturday and Sunday.

Columbus will celebrate its 25th Juneteenth, a Black cultural holiday in the U.S.commemorating the day enslaved people were freed in 1865, Mustafaa Shabazz, organizer of the Juneteenth Ohio Festival, said. All are welcome to the celebration of history, art and culture from noon to 11 p.m. both days, according to the Juneteenth Ohio Festival website .

“We need to realize that what we, as an entire population, are celebrating is something authentic and inclusive to all,” Shabazz said. “That began as Juneteenth, which was not an all-Black celebration but the all-people celebration that was symbolizing inclusiveness.”

Those who arrive at the festival prior to 3 p.m. will be granted free admission, but attendees who arrive after will have to pay $10 for adults and $5 for children, Michelle Jones,a volunteer for the Juneteenth 2022 committee, said.

Juneteenth promotes a message of inclusivity through the storytelling of various topics — including the Underground Railroad and prominent historical women, Shabazz said.

“These stories are based on Civil War heroes and ‘sheroes,’” Shabazz said. “This is a particular story that we want our children to know, and to see how we fought for our freedom alongside Union soldiers.”

A drum call will kick off the weekend at noon Saturday, according to the event’s website.

There will also be resources for people from many different communities to get informed about employment and education opportunities, Shabazz said.

“There will be businesses who are coming to provide on-site interviews with possibilities of recruiting attendees who just graduated high school,” Shabazz said. “There will also be a wellness pavilion that offers health screenings throughout the festival.”

Another special feature of this year’s celebration is the ‘Paradise Market’ where attendees can find unique ethnic fashion and jewelry beginning at noon Saturday and Sunday, Shabazz said.

There will also be activities, such as a talent show for a $3,000 prize Saturday, a laser light show at around 9 p.m. Sunday as well as a drone show in the sky, according to the website. A soul food pavilion will be offered Saturday and Sunday beginning at noon.

Artists will be in attendance with performances of spoken word, step dancing and other activities that help increase awareness of Juneteenth’s importance and history.

Before becoming a national holiday, there was a widespread lack of awareness about Juneteenth because it was solely celebrated by the African American community, Jones said.

“People around the country did not understand what the point of this celebration was,” Jones said. “With this build of momentum, we want to see all sorts of people coming out to celebrate peace with one another.”

Since the first celebration 25 years ago, Shabazz said public awareness of Juneteenth has recently increased.

“The first year that this celebration took place at Genoa Park, there was a line going all the way down the road,” Jones said. “This way, more people can come in easier during the day and celebrate this holiday together.”

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