Ed Hamilton will grand marshal the Juneteenth Jubilee march
Louisville artist Ed Hamilton will grand marshal the Juneteenth Jubilee march. | Courtesy of Louisville Waterfront Park

Update: This event, previously scheduled for Wednesday, June 19, has been postponed by organizers due to severe weather forecasts. The new date is Sunday, July 28, which also ties in with the celebration because on July 28, 1868, the adoption of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was certified. The amendment grants citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” which included former slaves.

To celebrate Juneteenth and honor the 10-year anniversary of the Lincoln Memorial, Louisville is hosting the Juneteenth Jubilee at Louisville Waterfront Park on Sunday, July 28.

The event will feature a community gathering, a freedom march, guest speakers, a sunset performance and more, according to a news release. Admission is free.

The Juneteenth Jubilee will start at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday with a gathering at the KFC Yum! Center Plaza to remember thousands of slaves who were sold at that location in the 1800s. The freedom march then will begin at 8 p.m., en route to the Lincoln Memorial at Waterfront Park.

(There will be free shuttles to and from the Yum! Center and Waterfront Park during the event to help attendees get back to their cars.)

The celebration at the memorial, which is located near the Big Four Bridge, will begin at 8:30 p.m. and feature performances and readings that will include excerpts of the Emancipation Proclamation embellished by artistic responses from Jason Clayborn and the Atmosphere Changers.

Local artists performing and reading include:

  • Ed Hamilton
  • Hannah Drake
  • River City Drum Corp
  • Jecorey “1200” Arthur
  • Jason Clayborn and the Atmosphere Changers
  • Lanita Rocknettes
  • AMPED
  • Lance Newman
  • Louisville Central Community Center
  • The Real Young Prodigy’s
  • Blazin’ Strings Academy
  • Chanelle Helm
  • Squallis Puppeteers
  • Sadiqa Reynolds

A little background on Juneteenth and the Lincoln Memorial.

The statue of Lincoln was unveiled in 2009 as part of the two-year national celebration of the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth. Louisville artist Ed Hamilton, sculptor of the piece, will serve as the grand marshal of the freedom march to celebrate the statue’s 10-year anniversary.

Juneteenth is a celebration of the abolition of slavery and is observed in Kentucky as Juneteenth National Freedom Day. The resolution to officially recognize Juneteenth in Kentucky passed in 2005. It commemorates June 19, 1865, when the abolition of slavery was made official in Texas. Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and ordered that the last slaves in the United States be freed.

Many cities around the country hold local celebrations in which they sing traditional songs and do public readings, similar to what Louisville is doing this year. Last year, the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage spotlighted the legacy of blues and jazz in Kentucky in honor of the holiday. This year, they held a weekend family fun day celebration last Saturday.