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Freedom Center celebrates true independence with Juneteenth Jubilee

MEDIA CONTACT: Cody Hefner (513) 608-5777,
Freedom Center celebrates true independence with Juneteenth Jubilee, presented by Gallagher
Live music, food trucks, community vendors, free museum admission and Bengals tackle Orlando Brown, Jr. highlight June 19 event
CINCINNATI – The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is inviting the community to gather in jubilation during its inaugural Juneteenth Jubilee, presented by Gallagher. The free daylong festival will celebrate true independence with free museum admission, live music, programming, community vendors and food trucks for a takeover of Freedom Way on June 19. Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Orlando Brown, Jr., will be the event’s featured partner, delivering a motivational speech followed by a photo and autograph session. 
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The Freedom Center’s Juneteenth Jubilee will be reminiscent of the joy and community that were the hallmarks of the earliest Juneteenth celebrations, bringing people together around music, food and community. The event will feature a stage on the Freedom Center plaza, with live music and performances from noon to 6 p.m.
“Juneteenth is a day of jubilation – for the millions of enslaved people who were finally free and for their ancestors and their brothers and sisters of every color who moved one step closer to the promise of freedom this nation was founded on,” said Woodrow Keown, Jr., president and COO of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “We’re inviting the community to join us for this tribute to liberation and celebration of joy.”
The Freedom Center is also hosting 15 minority- and women-owned businesses in a community market on Freedom Way where guests can support and shop local from noon to 6 p.m. Bookending Freedom Way will be food trucks Sweets & Meats BBQ, Texas Joe Tex Mex, Beverly Ann’s Cookies and Indigenous Chef.
The Juneteenth Jubilee’s outdoor events will culminate with a 6:30 p.m. walk to the banks of the Ohio River, the symbolic River Jordan over which thousands of enslaved people crossed into freedom on the Underground Railroad.
Inside the Freedom Center, the museum is extending its hours of operation from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with free 15-minute histories of Juneteenth and drop-in family activities throughout the day. Importantly, the Freedom Center will be focusing on the continuing legacy of Juneteenth and the ongoing journey to freedom for many.
“June 19, 1865, was a pivotal day in our nation’s history, but for African Americans in this country, it was still just the first step in a long, winding road to freedom,” added Keown, Jr. “The journey to freedom continues for so many, so it’s important that we remember how many people are still waiting for their Juneteenth. June 19 must be a day that we recommit ourselves to the pursuit of inclusive freedom.”
Community organizations and advocates supporting health equity, economic empowerment and voter education and engagement will have information tables available throughout the museum. Participating organizations include Community Engagement Collective, Greater Cincinnati Voter Collaborative, Humana Healthy Horizons of Ohio, the League of Women Voters, Opportunities People Justice Leaders and the Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.
Orlando Brown Jr.
Health equity is also a passion for Orlando Brown, Jr., a Super Bowl champion on the field and an advocate for equity off the field. He is involved in efforts to raise awareness and funds to support type 1 diabetes research in honor of those impacted, including his late father, his younger brother and his friends and fellow NFL players Mark Andrews and Noah Gray.
“Growing up, we always spent Juneteenth celebrating our people,” said Brown. “As a grandchild of two grandparents from rural South Carolina, we made sure to acknowledge the freedom of those who got the news in 1865. It’s so special and important to bring one of my childhood celebrations to Cincinnati. I look forward to bringing more awareness to the Black community while also celebrating this city on June 19.”
History of Juneteenth
On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved people of the nation were now free. The date, now celebrated as Juneteenth, came more than two-and-a-half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and nearly 250 years after the first enslaved Africans were brought to the Americas. In 2021, President Joe Biden declared Juneteenth a federal holiday.

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