A festive sense of community was a vibrant part of the Juneteenth Cookout in Taylor Park. (Melissa Elsmo/Food Editor)

The smell of barbecue wafted through the air and Taylor Park bustled with people on Sunday, June 19 at a community organized Juneteenth cookout, co-sponsored by the Village of Oak Park.  The holiday commemorates the date, June 19, 1865, when a U.S. Army general read orders in Galveston, Texas that the Civil War had ended, and all enslaved people were free. 

Taylor Park is located at Ridgeland and Division.

To mark the occasion, children jumped in bounce houses as the Snake Doctors played in the nearby pavilion. Friends and family gathered in large groups under the shade of park trees as throngs of picnic goers lined up for free barbecue from Robinson’s Ribs, 848 Madison St., in Oak Park. Vegan dishes were provided by Vegan World Café, Surf’s Up Oak Park and Chicago Style Vegan.

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“Equity is not easy, equity is earned. As communities, we have to choose to actively work every day to ensure each and every community member has a voice,” said Anthony Clark, founder of Suburban Unity Alliance. “Yesterday, the village came together and celebrated the voices of the Black community and I hope that today, tomorrow, and every day, we make that same choice, our voices are American, too. Thank you, community, for such a wonderful event.”

The Juneteenth cookout “gold” sponsors include Wintrust Mortgage/Oak Park Bank a Wintrust Community Bank, Good Heart Work Smart Foundation, International Mansion, Park District of Oak Park, Village of Oak Park, and Suburban Unity Alliance. Additional sponsorship came from The Nova Collective, One Earth Film Festival, Byline Bank Oak Park, Aclaimant, Brewpoint Craft Coffee, Families First La Familia Primero – Collaboration for Early Childhood, Oak Park and River Forest High School and the Oak Park Regional Housing Center.

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