COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Communities across Columbus are coming together to celebrate Juneteenth, the anniversary of the end of slavery in America, and that includes the Ohio History Connection’s Jubilee Day Festival Sunday.
The festival uses the art of storytelling to bring the landmark day to life.
The village at the Ohio History Connection took a step back in time Sunday, reprising the roles and timeless stories of key contributors to a monumental day in American history.
“The purpose of the song is literally a testimony to not letting anything stop you from getting your freedom,” said Valerie Boyer, Miss Juneteenth, of the song “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.”
Boyer is from Galvaston, Texas, the birthplace of Juneteenth. She’s also a reigning national Miss Juneteenth, participating in celebrations across the country.
“Everywhere I go and everything I do, I’m Galveston,” Boyer said. “I carry that history with me. I got to stand where they stood when they heard they were free.
“As a Miss Juneteenth, make sure people get a fuller history,” she added. “Make sure, in the words of my grandmother, not just get it in their minds, but feel it in their bones.”
Boyer’s performance was one of many at the Ohio History Connection’s Juneteenth Jubilee, which used art to educate.
“We have poets, we have storytellers, we have vocalists,” said Ohio Village’s Lyn Logan-Grimes. “There will be some musicians here later.”
One of those artists was Columbus spoken-word artist Briana Robinson, who took on the role of Edmonia Lewis, a woman, Robinson said, redeveloped the image for Black people.
“She did the first piece that showed a free slave standing up,” Robinson said. “Taking charge, really empowering. Showing his shackles broken.”
For the artists at Sunday’s event, Juneteenth isn’t a celebration of African American history, but of American history.
“Inclusion,” Robinson said. “Today means inclusion. It means we are one.”
“This is our emancipation,” Logan-Grimes said. “This is our freedom day and it affected everybody.”
Sunday was the final day of the weekend-long celebration for the Ohio History Connection, which included the inaugural Juneteenth On The Ave celebration Saturday, facilitated by the King Arts Complex, the Pythian Theater, the Columbus Urban League, the Maroon Arts Group MPACC Box Park, and Mayme Moore Park.