UK Happenings

UK, Local Communities Invited to Celebrate Juneteenth

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 13, 2022) — This week, the University of Kentucky and surrounding communities will celebrate Juneteenth — the federal holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans — with a variety of community events.

While the Emancipation Proclamation was issued Jan. 1, 1863, declaring more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states free, it was not until Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, two years later, on June 19, 1865, that the last enslaved U.S. populations were informed of the proclamation. Since then, the date has served as a symbol for freedom and celebration for Black communities. This year marks the second time Juneteenth will be observed as a federal holiday in the U.S., as well as the second year the University of Kentucky will be closed in observance (Monday, June 20).  

Below is a list of events UK and community members are invited to attend in celebration of Juneteenth.

Soulteenth  noon-7 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at Moondance Ampitheater

A celebration of Black liberation and ingenuity through music, art, agriculture and food.

17th Annual Juneteenth Jubilee at African Cemetery No. 2 — June 18

Immediately following Soulteenth on June 18; this event will highlight the spirit of freedom and honor the Civil War soldiers who fought for it.

Juneteenth Festival at Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden — June 19

Festival includes vendors, entertainment, kids' activities and community fellowship celebrating Black liberation .

Juneteenth Celebration — 5-7 p.m. Sunday, June 19, at Douglass Park. 

Come out and enjoy food, inflatables and music.  ​

Juneteenth Independence Day Celebration - Affrilachian Poets Literary Event 7 p.m. Sunday, June 19, at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center

This poetry reading will be hosted by current Kentucky Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson and former Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker. Both are faculty members in the UK Department of English. The event will also feature current and newly inducted members of the Affrilichian Poets, including Amy Alvarez, Ron Davis, Zakia Holland, Nita Jade and Lisa Kwong.

The event is free, but registration and e-tickets are required for entry. Reserve your tickets at

UK College of Health Sciences’ Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee presents "A Juneteenth Celebration: From June 19, 1865, to Today” — noon-2 p.m. Tuesday, June 21, in room 415 Charles T. Wethington Building on UK's campus.

There will be learning, food and festivities, open to everyone. More information here.

Regional celebrations

Jessamine County: Juneteenth Festival — 5-6 p.m. June 17-19, on Jefferson Street.

Frankfort: What is Juneteenth? Interactive performance by Keith McGill — 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at Josephine Sculpture Park.​

Richmond: Battle of Richmond Juneteenth Commemoration — 2-5 p.m. Sunday, June 19, at Mount Zion Christian Church.

Georgetown: Juneteenth Celebration — 1-10 p.m. Saturday, June 18 ,at Ed Davis Park.

Louisville: Juneteenth Jubilee Celebration — June 17-20, at Waterfront Park​

Cincinnati's 35th Annual Juneteenth Celebrations:

  • Raising the Juneteenth Flag — June 13-17​
  • Juneteenth Festival in Eden Park— June 18​
  • Junefest — June 19​
  • Juneteenth Parade — June 20 

For those on the UK campus, UK Libraries has created a book display inside William T. Young Library with selected titles you may check out to learn more about the holiday and its history.

This Friday, UKNow will feature a special Juneteenth edition of "Behind the Blue" with guest Anastasia Curwood, director of the Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies at UK. Curwood will reflect on the layered and complicated history of what the holiday represents, and how communities can continue to learn, grow and support freedom and equality for all people.

You can also read more about Juneteenth here, including what the holiday means personally to UK Gaines Center Director Melynda Price and her family. 

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.