Pictured at last year's Juneteenth celebrations are Springfield NAACP Kai Sutton and Dee Ogilvy, executive board member. (Photo: Springfield NAACP)

Everyone is invited to celebrate Juneteenth (short for June 19th) on both Saturday and Sunday at events in downtown Springfield. 

Juneteenth marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. The troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, according to History.com. 

A scene from the 2021 Juneteenth celebrations.

Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday. On June 17, 2021, it officially became a federal holiday.

Mia Jones, co-founder of United Community Change, is organizing events that will be held at Jordan Valley Park beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday with a ceremony, speakers, performances and history reflections.

Then at 1 p.m., the annual Freedom Walk Celebration March will head from Jordan Valley Park to Silver Springs Park, where the Springfield Chapter of the NAACP is hosting their celebrations. 

Jones said she hopes the entire community — not just the Black community — will join the celebrations.

A scene from the 2021 Juneteenth celebrations.

“I want to bring an experience of not only history, but also a way of coming together,” Jones said, “enjoying the day and actually kind of pushing people to actually get to know people they don’t.”

The NAACP celebration at Silver Spring Park includes several speakers and a Timmons Hall Meet and Greet Living History event that begins at 2 p.m. Saturday. On Sunday, the NAACP will hold viewings of the King Richard movie at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. at Timmons Hall.

Freedom Walk participants can return to Jordan Valley Park around 2:30 p.m for free barbecue, bounce houses and water fights. 

A bit later on Park Central Square, Sade Shine Entertainment is hosting a free Downtown Music Festival. 

Sade Shine Entertainment is hosting free music festivals both Saturday and Sunday nights on Park Central Square. (Photo: Shine Entertainment)

Shine, a Springfield-based singer and entertainer who is currently performing as an Aretha Franklin tribute artist in Branson, said she became involved with the Juneteenth celebrations three years ago and is excited to be part of this year’s events again. The Music Festival will be both Saturday (6-9 p.m.) and Sunday (4-8 p.m.) nights on the Square. 

Shine said she wants to use her platform to help “create diversity and culture and to celebrate the day that African Americans were freed in this country. 

“I want to highlight social issues in the community like violence and addiction and provide resources for families and small businesses,” Shine continued, “and use my music as a way to tie all of that together and create one even with activities for kids and adults.”

Shine said about 10 local artists and speakers will perform throughout Saturday and Sunday nights, including Mo’Soul and Pat 2X. Miss Goldie, a soul singer from St. Louis, will also perform.

A scene from the 2021 Juneteenth celebrations.

While the events are free, donations will be accepted for United Community Change, a nonprofit organization. Those donations will go towards summer activities for marginalized minorities.

A Juneteenth COVID testing event will be held 3-6 p.m. Thursday at the O’Reilly Center for Hope, 1518 E. Dale St. No appointment required. 

Sponsors for the United Community Change events include Pineapple Whip, CoxHealth, Springfield-Greene County Health Department, Hamra Enterprises, Wendy’s, ER Digital, Missouri State University’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Community Foundation of the Ozarks, National Christian Avenue Church, PlotLine Film and Media Education, Sade Shine Entertainment and Cashflow Pretty Entertainment. 

Jackie Rehwald

Jackie Rehwald is a reporter at the Springfield Daily Citizen. She covers housing, homelessness, domestic violence and early childhood, among other public affairs issues. Her office line is 417-837-3659. More by Jackie Rehwald