Release Date: June 15,2021

Juneteenth Celebrations Expand Across Akron

June 15, 2021, Akron, Ohio — Juneteenth celebrations in Akron will span three neighborhoods on Saturday, June 19, 2021. Events are planned in West Akron, North Hill and downtown Akron, and include Community Talk Back Equality and Equity at Perkins Stone Mansion, a community picnic, the 18th Annual Juneteenth Festival at Stoner/Hawkins Park, Juneteenth and World Refugee Day Celebrations in North Hill, an online film premier of short dance films on the National Center for Choreography at the University of Akron’s YouTube page, a breakdance workshop, numerous live music performances, a performance by the Akron Symphony in Lock 3, and Skate Night with Phuture Boogie on Cascade Plaza.

All of the events are free and open to all. A complete list with times and locations is listed below. This year, a number of Akron organizations worked together to enhance and expand the Juneteenth celebrations. A map has been created as a guide to events in West Hill, downtown and North Hill. Click here to download it.

Visitors can Ride METRO free when they show the digital or paper Juneteenth map to the bus operator. Valid Saturday, June 19th only from 8 a.m. -10 p.m. For more information on routes, or to plan your trip, visit akronmetro.org.

Local actress, playwright and Summit County Historical Society education staff member Reva Golden referred to Akron Juneteenth Festival founder Gerald Carter, saying, “The celebration of Juneteenth has become an all-city venture. It’s what Gerald Carter wanted. This year, it gelled beautifully.”

Akron Juneteenth Festival Coordinator Fela Sutton said, “Elder Gerald R. Carter was dedicated to bringing out the best of us. His legacy of encouraging Black Excellence and Unity in the Akron community lives on through the furtherance of the Annual Akron Juneteenth Festival.”

Community leader, Gerald R. Carter, who died in 2020, founded the Juneteenth Festival in West Akron in 1998 after learning about Juneteenth during a trip to Dallas in the mid-1990s. Initially, the festival was held at John Brown House, and later moved to Stoner/Hawkins Park. 

Donations to the Gerald R. Carter 18th Annual Juneteenth Festival benefit Akron’s Black youth.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the date in which Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas and announced that 250,000 enslaved people in Texas were free by executive decree. More than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, scores of enslaved people were finally freed when Confederate control of the state was dissolved. Newly freed people in Texas christened the day “Juneteenth” and the day has been celebrated for over 150 years.

2021 Juneteenth celebrations in Akron have been enriched and enhanced by numerous partners, such as the Akron Black Artist Guild, Akron Juneteenth, Akron Symphony Orchestra, the City of Akron, Downtown Akron Partnership, North Akron Community Development Corporation, NCCAkron, Summit County Historical Society, and others.

June 19 Events and activities include:

10 – 11 a.m. | Community Talk Back Equality and Equity | Perkins Stone Mansion

Panelists include

  • Carla Chapman - Akron Public Schools, Chief Diversity Officer
  • Leslie Parker Barnes - Founder and Artistic Director of YEPAW, Youth Excellence Performing Arts Workshop
  • Pastor Robert DeJournett - Greater Akron Chamber and St. Ashworth Temple C.O.G.I.C.
  • Dr. Jennifer Ross - Akron Urban League, Director of Diversity & Strategic Initiatives
  • Pastor Kevin Rushings - United Baptist Church

11 a.m. – 12 p.m. | Breakdance Workshop with Illstyle Rockers | Akron Art Museum Garden

11 a.m. – 1 p.m. | Community Picnic | Perkins Stone Mansion (reservations requested)

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. | “The Life of John Brown,” a short play by Reva Golden | Perkins Stone Mansion

12 – 7 p.m. | 18th Annual Juneteenth Festival | Stoner/Hawkins Park

  • 1 p.m. Opening ceremony and Buy Black Business Market opens
  • 2 p.m. Sponsor messages, youth activities, and giveaways
  • 3 – 5 p.m. Gerald R. Carter Teen Talent Show and founder appreciation
  • 5 – 7 p.m. Open mic and community conversation
  • 7 p.m. Closing and Westside Car Show

3 p.m. | Free NCCAkron Youtube premier of REFRAME/REMNANT/RITUAL, a collection of short dance films by Cara Hagan and her artistic collaborators as part of NCCAkron’s Community Commissioning Residency

4 – 8 p.m. | Live music at venues throughout downtown, including Church of Starry Wisdom on Main St. near Akron Civic Theatre and JT’s Electrik Blackout on the patio at Cilantro

6 – 9 p.m. | Skate Night with Phuture Boogie on Cascade Plaza

7 p.m. | Interactive, pre-movie discussion of One Night in Miami led by Dr. Lathardus Goggins II | Exchange House, North Hill

Dusk | Free outdoor screening of One Night in MiamiExchange House, North Hill

7:30 p.m. | Akron Symphony presents Outside Voices at Lock 3

June 20 Events and activities include:

1 – 3 p.m. | World Refugee Day celebration with multimedia festival/collage of performances by Has Win, a North Hill Community Member

3:30 – 5 p.m. | Interactive, post-performance discussion led by Dr. Anuj Gurung | North Hill

For more information about Juneteenth in Akron, visit https://www.downtownakron.com/explore/juneteenth