Juneteenth celebrations continue in Fort Wayne


Fort Wayne, Ind. – – Before the day was a federal holiday, celebrations for Juneteenth were part of some states’ summer festivities. Fort Wayne, Indiana is no exception. Officially, Juneteenth was kicked off with a Jubilee Brunch at Turner Chapel A.M.E. Church, the city’s oldest black American church. The celebration continues this week as a series of events to take place between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., Saturday, June 18, 2022.

Juneteenth in Fort Wayne: Macknificent Freedom Fest

Presented as a day of “education, culture, and family fun” Macknificent Freedom Fest’s events will take place on the southeast side of Fort Wayne. The free events will be rich in black American, as presenters strive to detail the importance of the historic day. The day’s activities are presented by Arts Center Inc. (stylized Arts Center Inc.!).

Scheduled events include a Keepers of the Light Ceremony at Weisser Park Center, followed by the ALC Promenade along Oxford Street, and culminates with the Macknificent Freedom Fest events at McMillen Park.

Juneteenth events have been organized in Fort Wayne since at least the late 1990s. Interested citizens would hold events to mark the day. Now that Juneteenth is a federal holiday, potential audiences should expect celebrations of the once-obscure holiday to grow even larger.

Juneteenth: the story behind the new holiday

The history of Juneteenth starts with the end of slavery. The institution of slavery ended with Abraham Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation” in 1863. However, it took two years for the news of freedom to reach slaves in Texas. The first reported Juneteenth celebration was in Texas in 1866.

Last year, President Biden signed legislation on June 17, 2021 making Juneteenth a federal holiday. Between 1979 and 2021, several states passed their own legislation declaring Juneteenth a holiday. But now that the day is a federal holiday, perhaps more people will learn about and appreciate a day that changed the socio-political course of the US.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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