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Lexington to celebrate Juneteenth weekend with expanded events

Juneteenth ceremony at African Cemetery #2 in Lexington
Alan Lytle
Juneteenth ceremony at African Cemetery #2 in Lexington

Community organizers are presenting a variety of events in celebration of Juneteenth. Flags and banners through downtown will be joined by businesses lighting up their buildings to support and raise awareness around the holiday.

Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day, occurs annually on June 19. It is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

Juneteenth’s commemoration is on the anniversary date of June 19, 1865, when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger led a force of soldiers to Galveston, Texas, to deliver General Order No. 3. This message stated
that the war was over, the Union had won, and it had the manpower to enforce the end of slavery.

The announcement came two months after the effective conclusion of the Civil War and more than two years since President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

This is why we celebrate Juneteenth, as it honors the day all of the enslaved were legally freed.

Councilmember James Brown said, “With this being the first year the City has really been able to celebrate Juneteenth as a national holiday, it is important that we support a variety of local grassroots Juneteenth events and celebrations.”

Juneteenth flags will adorn Main Street beginning June 13. There will also be banners along the Legacy Trail. City Center, Central Bank Building, LexPark Garages and Pedways, Rupp Arena, Transylvania University, Triangle Park, and University of Kentucky will light up their buildings and structures, and displaying digital signage promoting the holiday.

Events highlighting the celebration in Lexington:

  • Soulteenth,

    which is a part of SoulFeast Week, will kick things off at Moondance Amphitheater on June 18 with a celebration of black liberation and
    ingenuity through music, art, agriculture, and food.

  • Immediately following will be the 17th Annual Juneteenth Jubilee at African Cemetery No. 2. It highlights the spirit of freedom, and honors Civil War soldiers who fought for it.
  • On June 19, a Juneteenth Festival
    will take place at Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden, which is presented by Kentucky U.S. Freedmen Coalition.  The festival will include
    vendors, entertainment, kids’ activities, and community fellowship celebrating Black liberation.
  • On the evening on June 19, Wiseguys Barbershop and Georgetown St. Neighborhood Assoc. will present a Juneteenth Celebration, taking place at Douglass Park from 5 – 9 p.m., including food, inflatables, and music.
  • Capping off the celebration will be the Affrilachian Poets Literary Event at the Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center. The event features acclaimed members of the Affrilachian Poets. Hosts for the evening will be Kentucky Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson, and former Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X. Walker.


Saturday, June 18


Presented by: SoulFeast Week

Moondance Amphitheater – 1152 Monarch St.

Noon – 7 p.m.

Juneteenth Jubilee

Presented by: African Cemetery No. 2

African Cemetery No. 2 – 419 E. Seventh St.

7 – 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, June 19

Juneteenth Festival

Presented by: Kentucky U.S. Freedmen Coalition

Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden – 577 E. Third St.

11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Juneteenth Celebration

Presented by: Wiseguys Barbershop & Georgetown St. Neighborhood Assoc.

Douglass Park – 726 Georgetown St.

5 – 9 p.m.

Juneteenth Independence Day Celebration:

Affrilachian Poets Literary Event

Presented by: Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center

Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center – 300 E. Third St.

7 p.m.

Visit lexingtonky.gov/juneteenth for more information about the events and activities happening throughout the weekend across Lexington.