Juneteenth is the June 19 holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States. Long celebrated by the African American community, it is now an Illinois state holiday, an official Village of Oak Park holiday, as well as an official library holiday. And now, for the first year ever, it’s become a U.S. federal holiday known as Juneteenth National Independence Day.
The holiday is also known as Freedom Day and Emancipation Day. It marks June 19, 1865, the day when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, were finally told that the Civil War had ended and they were free. This was two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863.
To observe the holiday, library buildings will close, and virtual customer support will be unavailable, on Saturday, June 19.
Here are some ways you can learn more and celebrate, both at the library and in the community.
Juneteenth Exhibit, Main Library Idea Box, June 5-20
The exhibit in the Main Library first-floor Idea Box (pictured above) features artifacts from past community Juneteenth celebrations in Oak Park as well as surrounding communities, including T-shirts, photos, flags, newspaper articles, and more.
We’ll also be showing video of our Multicultural Learning Coordinator Juanta Griffin reading the official Oak Park proclamation, and the beginning of the documentary The Hope of Juneteenth (see more below).
Library Storytime, Scoville Park, June 16, 10 am
Library staff, including Multicultural Learning Coordinator Juanta Griffin, will share Juneteenth stories for kids and families, plus multicultural reading materials from the Oak Park Book Bike!
More on this storytime, including safety guidelines »
The Long Shadow Virtual Screening, Monday, June 21-Monday, June 28
Join a special virtual screening event of The Long Shadow in recognition of Juneteenth. Stream the film here at your convenience »
The Long Shadow Virtual Q&A Thursday, June 24, 7-8 pm
Join in for an interview and Q&A with The Long Shadow Director Frances Causey. Register through The Long Shadow film website or directly through Zoom »
Oak Park Juneteenth Day of Freedom Celebration, Taylor Park, June 19, 3-6 pm
As in years past, the community is invited to a large Juneteenth cookout picnic and car caravan, starting and ending at Taylor Park, 400 W. Division St., Oak Park. There will be music, food, drinks, games, and more, all free to the community.
More on the event and caravan route from the Village of Oak Park »
Black History Bike Tour, Historical Society of Oak Park & River Forest, June 19, 10 am-2 pm
Oak Park River Forest Museum will participate in the community’s Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 19 by debuting a free, self-guided bicycle tour of sites that tell some of the many stories of African-American life in Oak Park. Pick up a map at the Oak Park River Forest Museum, 129 Lake St., Oak Park.
More on the self-guided tour »
Berwyn Juneteenth Fest, Berwyn VFW, June 19, 2-7 pm
Live music, local vendors, community organizations and artists, at the Berwyn VFW, 1529 S. Harlem Ave., Berwyn.
Forest Park Juneteenth Family Pool Party, Forest Park Aquatic Center, June 19
Pool party at the Forest Park Aquatic Center, 7501 Harrison St., Forest Park.
Resources we suggest
Hope of Juneteenth documentary
The locally produced documentary Hope of Juneteenth celebrates the history and joy of Juneteenth, and the promise of hope for the future it brings.
The documentary, which our Multicultural Learning Coordinator Juanta Griffin helped make, was directed and produced by Forest Park community leader Marjorie Adam, funded by Riveredge Hospital, and supported by Forest Park Mayor Rory Hoskins.
Watch Hope of Juneteenth »
Oak Park Juneteenth 2020 Proclamation
Last year, Multicultural Learning Coordinator Juanta Griffin read the Village of Oak Park proclamation to recognize June 19 as Juneteenth every year. It resolves “that the Village of Oak Park supports the celebration of Juneteenth both financially and in spirit from this day forward.”
Watch the video & read the proclamation »
“How we Juneteenth” & “Juneteenth Jamboree”
- The New York Times has a Juneteenth collection of photos, poetry, and articles about Juneteenth. (Read full New York Times coverage for free through our library, from anywhere »)
- PBS Austin has a “Juneteenth Jamboree” website with historical and celebratory videos.