Juneteenth 2021: Celebrations, Events Happening This Week Across Chicago

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Juneteenth events are already taking place in Chicago this week as the city celebrates when the Emancipation Proclamation officially took effect across the nation, freeing all African American people from slavery on June 19, 1865.

The Emancipation Proclamation itself was signed the night of Jan. 1, 1863, and many Union soldier marched through southern states, reading the new declaration and announcing freedom for the enslaved, according to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

However, not all Black people were immediately free in Texas, as the state was still under Confederate control at the time of the signing. On June 19, 1865, about 2,000 Union troops marched into Texas, officially freeing all Black people from slavery.

Celebrations have continued over the years throughout the U.S., with more on the way this year in Chicago. Here are some events we know of thus far:

Juneteenth West Fest

The three-day Juneteenth "Freedom Day" West Fest will come to Columus Park, located at 500 S. Central Ave., from Friday to Sunday.

The event will include entertainment, vendors and games, organizers said. Friday will be dedicated to a Youth Rally, while Saturday is Family and Women's Health Day and Sunday is Fathers and their Families Day.

Dr. Charles R. Drew Blood Drive

An annual blood drive, hosted by the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, will take place Thursday from 1 to 6 p.m. at Malcom X College, located at 1900 W. Jackson Blvd.

Governors State University Juneteenth Celebration

In Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park, situated in University Park, Governor's State University will celebrate Juneteenth on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m.

The outdoor celebration at 1 University Dr. will feature sculptures that reflect African American legacies, organizers said, as well as musical performances and poetry.

Juneteenth Horse Race at Hawthorne Racetrack

Hawthorne Racetrack in suburban Stickney is paying tribute to Juneteenth this year by holding a special horse race involving the tracks' Black horsemen, officials said.

A Mind Is Gala

A Mind Is Gala from UNCF will hold its 21st anniversary fundraiser on Saturday at 6 p.m. with NBC 5's Stefan Holt, who will speak on the significance of the holiday.

Tickets for the virtual weekend event, featuring special guest actor Samuel L. Jackson, cost $250 per person. Register here.

Juneteenth Illinois Speakers, March For Us

Following up to the March For Us Saturday from 701 S. State St. to 50 W. Washington St., Juneteenth Illinois has been hosting speakers throughout the week on topics such as culture, justice, education, health and economics.

The speakers and events Thursday and Friday will be hosted in-person at Chicago's Malcom X College, located at 1900 W. Jackson Blvd.

1865 Fest in Garfield Park

The 1865 Fest to celebrate Juneteenth will take place Saturday and Sunday in Garfield Park. The festival will include live music, dance competitions, and family activity, according to organizers.

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