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'Forever Free: Celebrating Our Freedom, Renewing Our Strength,' theme of IU's Juneteenth celebration

Indiana University Bloomington's Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center will host its 13th Annual Juneteenth Freedom Celebration, which this year is titled "Forever Free: Celebrating Our Freedom, Renewing Our Strength."

Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center

Photo by Chris Meyer

Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center

Print-Quality Photo

The event is free and open to the public and will take place in the Neal-Marshall center (275 N. Jordan Ave.) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 18.

Juneteenth is a significant date in American history. It recalls June 19, 1865, when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned of their freedom. The commemoration of the beginning of freedom was dubbed "Emancipation Day" and is today the oldest national celebration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

"Our theme this year calls for celebration tempered with vigilance and resolve, because freedom cannot be taken for granted," said Audrey T. McCluskey, director of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. "I hope that the larger Bloomington community will participate. It has a similar meaning to July 4 for many Americans."

The community-oriented event features performances by the choirs of Second Baptist Church and the I Care Ministries and a children's segment with the Cry of the Children dance group, among other activities. JMuse, a multi-dimensional ensemble, will encapsulate the theme in its performance. The Unsung Hero Award will be presented to community leaders who can choose a charitable organization to receive the monetary donation that comes with the award.

Bloomington Hospital staff have organized a health screening bazaar that includes nutrition, blood pressure screening, information about the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program and other healthful lifestyle exhibits. The event concludes with a catered family style dinner by a local chef.

Co-sponsors for Juneteenth are The City of Bloomington, Ivy Tech Community College, IU Residential Programs and Services, IU Diversity Education and John Albertson of Allstate Insurance.

For more information please call 812-855-9271 or send an e-mail to

This story was originally published June 7, 2011.