Juneteenth Freedom Festival scheduled Saturday, June 17
is hosting a Juneteenth Freedom Festival.
The event takes place from noon to 5 p.m. June 17 at Merrillville’s Dean and Barbara White Community
Center, 6600 Broadway.
“I think that it is very important for the Town to celebrate Juneteenth to highlight and celebrate African
American achievements in Northwest Indiana,” said Merrillville Payroll Administrator Robyn L. Johnson,
a chairwoman of the Juneteenth event. “If the Town is genuine in their efforts of inclusion and equality,
we must make strides daily, and this is just one large step to show what we hope to continue to do.”
Jeremy Pekarek, an archivist at Indiana University Northwest, will set up an educational display
explaining Juneteenth at the festival.
Juneteenth is celebrated on and around June 19 each year to celebrate the end of slavery. Although
President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865,
that news reached enslaved African Americans in Texas to inform them that slavery had been abolished.
“The Town of Merrillville hosting a Juneteenth event is a great way to honor this day and celebrate the
freedom of African Americans,” Town Councilman Richard Hardaway said. “It is also an opportunity to
educate people about the history of slavery and its impact on our society today. I hope this event will
bring people together and promote unity and understanding.”
In addition to the educational display, the event will feature a variety of entertainment and nearly 40 vendors, said Merrillville Planning and Building Director Sheila Shine, another event chairwoman.
Shine said DJ T. Black will provide musical entertainment and serve as the emcee for the day. The Steven
Mann Band, Voices of Love Gospel Choir, Bri's Dance Studio, and Divine Goddess Dance Company
will perform. Shine said there will be eight Corvette cars on display. The Community HealthNet Health
Centers will have a tent on site, and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Northwest Indiana will have a
S.T.E.M. display. The Impact Church will provide bouncy houses and have volunteers on site to work a
children’s area set up at the event.
“I am very pleased to see us bring our community together, and I will always support events that
contribute to building on our strengths,” Town Council President Rick Bella said.