CH's Juneteenth and Pride Month celebrations welcome all
America commemorates two watershed moments in civil rights each June: Juneteenth and Pride Month. The city of Cleveland Heights will join in with its own celebrations.
On Saturday, June 17, Cleveland Heights will recognize the living history of Juneteenth with an event organized in partnership with Safer Heights at Forest Hill Park, 5–9 p.m.
On Sunday, June 18, Cain Park—the city’s Summer Arts Park—will host a free and open-to-the-public Juneteenth concert at 1 p.m., featuring a lineup of Cleveland R&B and soul acts (see www.cainpark.com for details).
The following Saturday, on June 24, the city will launch what it hopes will become an annual event to cap off Pride Month: Pride in the Park will be held from noon to 4 p.m. in Cain Park.
Pride Month and Juneteenth share the need for recognition, celebration, and liberation, and both act as reminders of unfinished work.
Juneteenth, or, Freedom Day, commemorates when African Americans enslaved in Galveston, Texas, received word on June 19, 1865, that slavery was abolished in the U.S.—more than two years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Black communities in Texas began celebrating this day, and, over the decades, the practice spread across the country. President Biden proclaimed Juneteenth a national holiday in June 2021, following the racial and social justice movement resulting from the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.
Similarly, more than a century later, Pride Month evolved from a single event—the 1969 Stonewall Uprising protesting police mistreatment of gay, lesbian, and transgender people who were meeting in safe spaces, including the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Stonewall sparked a national movement for civil rights for gay, lesbian, transgender, queer, and other people whom society marginalizes because of their sexual preferences, gender, and gender expression. The Stonewall Uprising is widely credited with leading to Pride Month.
Marsha P. Johnson, a Black, Transgender Woman who was part of the vanguard of the Stonewall Uprising, pointed out the intersectionality of Black and Queer identities when she said, “No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.” Her insight explains why it makes sense to celebrate Juneteenth and Pride during the same month.
The shared histories of Pride and Juneteenth and their blossoming celebrations of diversity, equity, and inclusiveness are different voices singing the same chord. Cleveland Heights—a city where “All Are Welcome"—embraces both.
Marc Lefkowitz is a public relations specialist with the city of Cleveland Heights. He and his family are residents of Cleveland Heights.