COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Sunday marks the anniversary of freedom for the last enslaved African Americans.
Several organizations in Columbus came together to welcome the community for a Juneteenth celebration, a celebration of culture, community, and tradition in a special spot for the city’s Black community.
“Traditionally in the Black community, we gather on Mt. Vernon Avenue, and so this is very special to us because On The Ave is bringing us back together for the Juneteenth, and it’s a celebration,” said Shelbi Toone with the Ohio History Connection.
“And so this is kind of like our freedom day, our celebration of freedom,” said J. Averi Frost with the Central Ohio African American Chamber of Commerce. “Just happy, enjoying each other’s company. The Black joy.”
A joy that Toone and Frost point out was shared by a diverse crowd on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
“Columbus folks really just appreciate good culture,” Frost said. “Whether it’s Juneteenth or the Greek festival or pride or whatever, we all really appreciate immersing in each other’s cultures, and that’s what makes it fun.”
And it was immersive, with dozens of vendors lining the street.
“There’s something for everyone here,” said Columbus resident Coby Williams. “There’s art vendors here. There’s authors, there’s food, there’s spoken word taking place behind us.”
With every offering, from the artists to the food trucks and everything in between, comes a deeper meaning for what Juneteenth is all about.
“It’s super important because our kids need to know that they stand on the shoulders of their ancestors,” Toone said. “They need to know where they come from. They need to know that it’s now their job to carry this torch over and make sure that their children can get this type of experience.”