Juneteenth events in The Cov start this weekend

City Hall closed June 19 for historic ‘second Independence Day’

COVINGTON, Ky. – For the third year in a row, the City of Covington is closing its offices on June 19 to celebrate Juneteenth, the federal holiday that commemorates the end to slavery in the United States.

The City is also a sponsor of events – including a job fair, parade, and festival – that lead up to the holiday and start this weekend.

“In a city that thrives on diversity and preaches the value of it, it’s imperative that we recognize this holiday, especially given not only its importance in our nation’s history but also its relevance in society all around us,” City Manager Ken Smith said.

To help bring awareness to the holiday, the Parks & Facilities Division of the City’s Public Works Department raised Juneteenth flags on May 31 in two places in Covington – on the Sixth Street promenade in MainStrasse Village and near David Housley Pavilion in Randolph Park.

The commemorative events include several this weekend organized in Covington for the second year in a row by the Northern Kentucky Juneteenth Committee, an Erlanger-based group that will hold similar events in Elsmere.

These are:

  • Juneteenth Career Fair: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Friday, June 14, at the Kentucky Career Center, 1324 Madison Ave. This will include more than 30 employers and is an opportunity for job-seekers to meet employers in person and learn about their job openings. It’s “felony friendly” and will include a focus on re-entry programs and resources. It’s in partnership with the Kentucky Career Center and the Northern Kentucky Workforce Investment Board.
  • Freedom Day Parade: 11 a.m., Saturday, June 15. (Line up at 10 a.m. on Prospect Street between Ninth and Robbins streets near Randolph Park). The route will be west on Ninth, north on Greenup, west on Second Street (East Rivercenter Boulevard), and north on Madison Avenue to the Madison Overlook.
  • Juneteenth Day Celebration: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday, June 15, at Covington Plaza. The day will kick off with a ceremony recognizing Covington City Commissioner Ron Washington, who is running unopposed in the November election as Covington’s mayor. It will also include the Black Excellence Awards, Juneteenth Bingo, a fashion show (Juneteenth colors only in any style – doesn’t have to be “African Wear”), entertainment, food and drink, Spoken Word, a children’s dance contest, kids activities between noon and 8 p.m. (including a Bounce House, games, prizes, Champ Camp, Kona Ice, and face painting). Vendors will also have booths promoting programs, resources, and initiatives offering community support.

More information about these events can be seen on the Northern Kentucky Juneteenth Facebook page.


Then on June 19 itself, there will be the annual celebratory event sponsored by the Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission and St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

  • Juneteenth Celebration: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday, June 19, at the Lincoln Grant Scholar House, 824 Greenup. There will be food, a talent show, a DJ, and booths staffed by non-profit groups and other community-based organizations that offer health-related and community support-related services. Note that vendors and talent show participants (students from elementary school through college) can still sign up at Juneteenth vendor and talent showcase registration. Read Ready Covington, the City’s early childhood literacy program, is participating.

See the NKCAC Facebook page for more information.


The history of Juneteenth

Juneteenth – a combination of June and nineteenth and observed on or around that date – has long been celebrated by many African Americans as “Freedom Day” or “Juneteenth Independence Day,” marking the end to slavery in the United States.

Though President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, it wasn’t enforced in a number of places until the Civil War ended two years later. Slave owners in Mississippi, Louisiana, and others migrated to Texas to escape the Union Army’s reach.

The last of the Confederate forces didn’t surrender until June 2, 1865. Then on June 19 of that year, U.S. Army General Gordon Granger (who by the way is buried in Lexington, Ky.) took 1,800 Union soldiers to Galveston, Texas, to share the news that the war was over and that enslaved people were now legally free.

A year later, the first celebration of “Jubilee Day” was held in Texas.

Official recognition

  • Nation: But Juneteenth didn’t become a federal holiday until 2021, when President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law. All 50 states recognize Juneteenth in some fashion, either as a holiday or day of observance.
  • City: The following year, the Covington Board of Commissioners voted Jan. 11, 2022, to recognize Juneteenth – in an order saluting the country’s “second Independence Day” – as an official City holiday.
  • State: After the Kentucky General Assembly again this year declined to enact legislation making the day an official state holiday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear last month signed an executive order declaring it a state Executive Branch holiday.

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