Juneteenth, marks the date – June 19, 1865 – “when enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, were finally told that the Civil War had ended and they were free. This was two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863,” according to the Oak Park Public Library website.

In 2020, the Village of Oak Park declared Juneteenth a holiday and now, “to recognize its significance, the Board of Library Trustees voted to make Juneteenth a paid holiday for library employees,” making it an official library holiday in Oak Park. All three libraries will be closed and virtual customer support is unavailable on Saturday, June 19.  

However, the Oak Park Public Library, along with others, have a variety of events available for all ages to observe the holiday by celebrating, learning and being with others on this important day especially for Black community members.    

Michelle Dybal
Arts Editor

Hope of Juneteenth

Watch anytime with the Oak Park Public Library 

This documentary celebrates the history and joy of Juneteenth, and the promise of hope for the future it brings. The Oak Park Public Library’s Multicultural Learning Coordinator Juanta Griffin helped make it along with producer/director and Forest Park community leader Marjorie Adam. Watch: oppl.org/news-events/anti-racism/watch-hope-of-juneteenth

Juneteenth Exhibit

Through Friday, June 25, Main Library Idea Box 

The first-floor Idea Box features artifacts from past community Juneteenth celebrations in Oak Park as well as surrounding communities, including T-shirts, photos, flags, newspaper articles and more. Also see a video of Multicultural Learning Coordinator Juanta Griffin read the official Oak Park proclamation from 2020 and the beginning of the documentary The Hope of Juneteenth. 834 Lake St., Oak Park.

Library Storytime

Wednesday June 16, 10 a.m., Scoville Park

Oak Park Library staff, including Multicultural Learning Coordinator Juanta Griffin, will share Juneteenth stories for kids and families, plus multicultural reading materials from the Oak Park Book Bike. For families with kids 0-5. Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Bring your own blanket and hand sanitizer. Limited to 12 families, with masks. Weather permitting. In partnership with the Park District of Oak Park. Lake St. and Oak Park Ave., Oak Park.

Black History Bike Tour 

Saturday, June 19, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Oak Park River Forest Museum 

For Juneteenth, the museum is debuting a free, self-guided bicycle tour of sites that tell some of the many stories of African-American life in Oak Park. Come to the corner of Lake and Lombard in front of the museum to pick up a map that includes stops at the site of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, the homes or home sites of several prominent Black residents and more. OPRF Museum volunteers will be at some of the stops with stories of the contributions of Black residents and the discrimination many have faced through the decades. Free. More: oprfmuseum.org/events/black-history-bike-tour. 129 Lake St., Oak Park.

Berwyn Juneteenth Fest

Saturday, June 19, 2 to 7 p.m., Berwyn VFW

Enjoy live music, local vendors, community organizations and artists. The goal – infuse Black Lives Matter and Black Liberation content with Black Music Month into a celebration of life and manifestation of freedom while showcasing unity. More: facebook.com/Berwyn-Juneteenth-Fest-2021-100265105596820. 1529 S. Harlem Ave., Berwyn.

Annual Juneteenth Day of Freedom Celebration 

Saturday, June 19, 3 to 6 p.m., Taylor Park

Join in a car caravan starting and ending at Taylor Park, and then a community cookout picnic with music, food, drinks, games and more. Wear red, black and green. Free; all welcome. Brought by Suburban Unity Alliance. More: facebook.com/events/898302110730466.

400 W. Division St., Oak Park

Juneteenth Afterparty

Saturday, June 19, 6 to 10 p.m., Outside at Compound Yellow

Join Creative Artists and Activists in Service Together (C.A.S.T.) at an open mic (6 to 7:30 p.m.) and performance of Ring Shout and Friends (7:30 to 10 p.m.), who will play classic Soul, R&B and Funk and is known to have audience members spontaneously sing and rap with them. All welcome. Free; donations accepted. Limited to approximately 40-50 attendees. 244 Lake St., Oak Park 

“The Long Shadow” Free Streaming Event and Live Q&A with the Director

View Anytime Monday, June 21 through Monday, June 28, Virtually through Illinois Libraries From New Orleans to Virginia, Mississippi and Canada, The Long Shadow follows two white Southern filmmakers as they travel the roads of oppression and suppression to reveal the connections of slavery and strong-arm Southern politics to the current racial strife in America. The film is a story about the lingering human cost of ignorance, intolerance and inaction in the U.S., casting a long shadow over national identity and imperfect democracy. View a free screening in recognition of Juneteenth. Stream here: thelongshadowfilm.com/illinois-libraries

Thursday, June 24, 7 p.m., Virtually through Illinois Libraries

Join a Q&A with The Long Shadow Director Frances Causey. Also submit a question to the filmmaker before the event. Register: thelongshadowfilm.com/illinois-libraries

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