Juneteenth celebrations in Jessamine County and beyond

Published 8:38 am Friday, June 14, 2024

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Juneteenth is just around the corner, and with that comes celebrations and special events to commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States and the Black American legacy of resistance. 


A major freedom day celebration is being held at Riney B Park by the Jessamine County Public Library (JCPL) on Wednesday, June 19 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event will feature a concert by Lexington-based band, Honeychild, an African Drumming workshop by nonprofit M’Power Rhythm, a foam party, a food truck, and more family fun. Be sure to bring a blanket or a lawn chair for your comfort.

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This event is sponsored by JCPL, Jessamine County Fiscal Court and Nicholasville -Jessamine County Parks and Recreation. The library on Main Street will be closed all day on Juneteenth. 


Camp Nelson will also hold an event outside of the community


Outside of Jessamine County in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, Camp Nelson National Monument (CANE) with Mammoth Cave National Park (MACA) will be holding a commemoration of Juneteenth Day and the 160th Anniversary of Camp Nelson on Saturday, June 22 at 1 p.m. CDT (2 p.m. EST) at the Mammoth Cave outdoor amphitheater. 


The ceremony will include the presentation of a special US flag to the 12th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery (USCHA). The event will pay tribute to African American soldiers, civilians, and refugees, who pursued freedom, equality, and the rights of citizenship. 


In Camp Nelson’s description of the event, a biography of one of the soldiers was shared. Research on William Garvin was conducted by the Mammoth Cave National Park team.


“One of the enlistees to the 12th USCHA was a man named William Garvin, who was born into slavery in southcentral Kentucky in 1847 or 1848. Garvin self-emancipated by enlisting in the US Army and was assigned to the 12th USCHA at Bowling Green on February 7, 1865. After the war, Garvin settled in Edmonson County, Kentucky and served as a cave guide and explorer at nearby Mammoth Cave. His famous discovery during his time at the cave was the maze-like passage known as Corkscrew which opened a variety of cave tour routes for visitors in the late 1800s.”


The Mammoth Cave outdoor amphitheater is located between the main hotel building and the camp store and is wheelchair accessible. The location address is Mammoth Cave National Park 1 Mammoth Cave Pkwy Mammoth Cave, KY 42259.


Both events are free of charge. 


About Juneteenth 


On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, which officially ended slavery in Washington D.C. This act freed 3,100 enslaved people of African descent in the District of Columbia and represents the only example of compensation by the U.S. government to former owners of emancipated slaves. 


Nine months later, on January 1, 1863, Lincoln signed the broader Emancipation Proclamation. Though it did not make slavery illegal, it changed the legal status of more than 3.5 Million enslaved African Americans in the confederate states from enslaved to free. Many of these individuals, however, were not free until years after Lincoln signed the proclamation.


June 19, 1865 is the original Juneteenth, marking the day that Texans received the news that they were now free from the shackles of slavery. Kentucky did not get the information until December that year- when the 13th Amendment went into effect, banning chattel slavery.