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Audrey McCluskey
Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center

George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Juneteenth Freedom Celebration expands to two days, including "An Evening of Remembrance"

June 3, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University and its Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, in collaboration with the City of Bloomington and Ivy Tech Community College, will present the 10th annual Juneteenth Freedom Celebration on June 13-14 in Bloomington. The public is invited.


Photo by: George Vlahakis

Music, dancing, poetry, food and crafts are features of the Juneteenth celebration, along with a keynote speech

Print-Quality Photo

The two-day event celebrates a significant date in American history, 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.

"We commemorate Juneteenth because it marks the beginning of the end of eight generations of enslavement of African people in America," said Audrey T. McCluskey, interim director of IU's Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. "Although the realization of freedom was to be an ongoing struggle, this beginning validated and reinforced the bright hope that had sustained enslaved people through their long, dark nightmare.

"Today, that Juneteenth optimism is needed as we celebrate our achievements and fortify ourselves for the work that remains," McCluskey added.

Other co-sponsors for the festival are the IU offices of the Dean of Faculties, Dean of Students, International Affairs and Multicultural Initiatives, Fifth Third Bank, IU Foundation and Project on African Expressive Traditions.

Festivities begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 13 with "An Evening of Remembrance: Enslavement and Freedom" at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave.

It will feature a performance of a portion of the play, One Mo' River To Cross, directed by retired IU faculty members Gladys DeVane and James Mumford. Bloomington Playwrights Project presented the play, which portrays people of African descent in the United States, earlier this year as part of Black History Month.

A reception will follow to recognize "unsung heroes in the community" immediately after performance.

Saturday's events will begin with a community parade that will start at 10 a.m. at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave., and conclude at Bloomington's Bryan Park, 1100 S. Woodlawn Ave. Festivities will continue at Bryan Park until 4 p.m.

The program will include a keynote speech by Valerie Haughton, an attorney with the Monroe County Public Defender's office and former deputy prosecuting attorney in Monroe County for 12 years.

A graduate of the IU Law School-Bloomington, Haughton also serves as chairwoman of the Bloomington Human Rights Commission and on the boards of directors of the Community Kitchen, the Sheriff's Merit Board, the Youth Services Board, the Cardinal Stage Company and the Community Justice and Mediation Center. She has done pro bono work for CASA and the Protective Order Project and is a member of several service organizations, including Rotary International and the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Other activities Saturday will include a basketball skills clinic, African drumming, vendors serving ethnic food, crafts and children's activities. Cry of the Children, a local step show youth group, will sing and perform, along with the Gum Boot Dancers and spoken word artists. Several community organizations also will have booths.

In the event of inclement weather, the parade will be cancelled, and the Juneteenth celebration will be held inside the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.

Those interested in participating in the pageant must complete an application and return it to the NMBCC by June 6 at 5 p.m. Applicants must be IU or Ivy Tech students, be willing to present their talent in a three- to five-minute routine, submit an essay (no more than 500 words) on the topic, "As a Global Citizen, What Does It Mean to be Free in the World Today?," and participate in a short question and answer session.

Application forms for multicultural and information booths and food vendors also are available from the NMBCC. An entry form is required from those who wish to be in the parade.

Complete information is available at the NMBCC's Web site at or by calling 812-855-9271 or sending an e-mail to