Cultural celebrations are among local June activities that recognize Juneteenth as well as local residents’ positive impacts on their community.

Although the commemoration started in Texas in 1866, Juneteenth (short for June Nineteenth) became a federal holiday in 2021.

Wayne County Writers, a group of local students, will perform at Saturday’s Juneteenth Freedom Day Celebration at Jack Elstro Plaza. Supplied photo

It recognizes June 19, 1865, as the day that enslaved Black Americans in Galveston, Texas — one of the last groups of enslaved people to be freed in the United States — learned of the Emancipation Proclamation, even though slaveholders were aware of the proclamation issued 2 ½ years earlier.

Here’s a guide to some upcoming events:

June 17

Free tours: 10:30 and 11:45 a.m. and 12:30, 1:30, 3 and 4 p.m., Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site, 201 U.S. 27., Fountain City. Learn more about “the Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad.” In addition, Earlham College Jazz Band performs lively songs commemorating the holiday and Underground Railroad. The hourlong concerts at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the Interpretive Center cost $8 for adults and $5 for youth. 765-847-1691 or

Juneteenth Freedom Day Celebration: 3-7 p.m., Elstro Plaza, 47 N. Sixth St., Richmond. All ages welcome. Free admission. Live music, free food, nearly 30 vendors offering merchandise or community information, giveaways and more. Premium Blend Music from Dayton, Ohio, performs styles ranging from classical to hip-hop and has accompanied national recording artists for neo-soul, R&B, hip-hop, rap and other genres. Wayne County Writers from Richmond Community Schools also will perform. Offered by Ivy Tech Community College. General information: 765-966-2656, ext. 2353; vendors are to call ext. 1218.

Honors & Awards Banquet, 6 p.m., Elks Lodge, 2100 U.S. 27 S., Richmond. Tickets are $35 per person or $300 for 10. Townsend Community Center Inc. aims to honor individuals and businesses they call “unsung heroes.” This year’s honorees: Robert Alexander, Joyce Johnson, Richard Lake, Touré Conley, the late K-9 Officer Seara Burton, InfinitPrint, Charles Guess, Alfredo Diamond and Ieshia (Webster) Harris. Keynote speaker: Pastor Kenneth Christmon. Reservations: 765-488-2042

June 19

Because some organizations are closing for the holiday, those seeking to conduct business Monday with higher education, financial or government institutions are advised to call before visiting. 

June 20

Book discussion: Noon-1 p.m., Morrisson-Reeves Library’s Bard Room, 80 N. Sixth St., Richmond. The public is invited to discuss “Parable of The Sower” by Octavia Butler, an Afrofuturist tale of apocalyptic proportions. Advance registration is requested at or 765-966-8291.

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A version of this article appeared in the June 14 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.