Juneteenth, the national commemoration of the end of slavery in 1865, falls on a Sunday this year. But Louisville was bustling Saturday with events around the city to recognize the holiday.
At the Norton Healthcare Sports & Learning Center, for instance, people walked or raced around the West End track to honor Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old Black woman killed by police in 2020 in an incident that sparked months of protests. The Race For Justice raised money for six different organizations around the city and was coordinated by Waggener High School students and recent graduates.
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“Juneteenth… symbolizes the struggle that Black people have had to put in just to be on the same playing field as other people in this country,” said Jamia Fletcher, a member of the student-led social justice group Future Ancestors. “It’s really important to me that we always remember that and we always pay homage to the people who came before us and put in the work so that I can be where I am today doing what we’re doing today.”
The team race consisted of 26 laps – one for each year that Taylor lived. Participants could also take part in a 1.3-mile run/walk race, to recognize the day Taylor was killed on March 13. Music and food were available for those in attendance, along with art that was made during the 2020 protests, Fletcher said. Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, attended, along with her sister Ella Juniyah Palmer and her former boyfriend Kenneth Walker.
Mayor Greg Fischer was in attendance as well, one day after taking part in the Juneteenth Art Camp at the Waterfront Park. Fischer said the event organizers are “making the city a more just place.”
“For them to realize they have that power within themselves is a really important thing,” he said.
Money raised at the event will go to support several local advocacy groups and causes, organizers said, including the Bail Project, Americana World Community Center, La Casita Center, Mattingly Edge, Queer Kentucky and the Roots 101 African American Museum.
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Several other events to recognize Juneteenth were set to take place over the weekend as well.
A youth jamboree was scheduled to take place Saturday morning hosted by Reviving Urban Neighborhoods at Berrytown Park. A “solidarity ride” also took place Saturday morning at Shawnee Park, where attendees were invited to take part in a 13-mile bike ride to commemorate the holiday.
On Sunday, meanwhile, a cookout was set to take place at Petersburg Park featuring local professional athletes and free food for attendees. A Juneteenth Festival was also set to take place at the Belvedere in downtown Louisville.
Reporter/editor Lucas Aulbach contributed. Reach Ana Rocío Álvarez Bríñez at [email protected]; follow her on Twitter at @SoyAnaAlvarez