Commemorate Juneteenth with a week of events at Cleveland Public Library

Cleveland Public Library is celebrating Juneteenth with a week of cultural education programs and activities to honor the day, as well as spark conversation about our history and the future of Black America.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration observing the end of slavery in the United States. “It’s a day of reflection, a day of renewal, and a pride-filled day. It’s a moment in time taken to appreciate the African American experience,” said Dr. Sadie Winlock, Chief Equity, Education, and Engagement Officer at Cleveland Public Library.

Writers & Readers

Our Juneteenth festivities kick off Saturday, June 12 at 12 p.m. with a candid conversation about owning your future in Black America with Columbia University associate professor and author John McWhorter and author and podcaster Coleman Hughes. Registration is now open on for this virtual event. McWhorter’s latest book, Nine Nasty Words, will be given to attendees on a first-come, first-served basis.

In addition to Nine Nasty Words, McWhorter has written more than a dozen books including The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language, Losing the Race: Self Sabotage in Black America, and Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English. He also wrote an essay on policing the “N-word.”

Hughes writes about race, public policy, and applied ethics and hosts the podcast Conversations with Coleman. In June 2019, Hughes testified before Congress regarding the question of slavery reparations in hearings before the United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary.

Reparations: A Path to Healing is the topic of the next Writers & Readers workshop on Thursday, June 17 at 4:30 p.m. YWCA Greater Cleveland’s President & CEO Margaret Mitchell will facilitate the discussion. She believes reparations will help people of color begin to heal and move forward from system racism. Registration is required. Interested attendees can sign up on Eventbrite.

“Our programs are designed to examine the plight of the Black struggle, create dialogue, and challenge the narrative of freedom,” Dr. Winlock adds. “Cleveland Public Library encourages everyone to participate and learn about the history of Juneteenth.”

Honoring Glenville

Cleveland Public Library will also host community discussions exploring the need to protect history. In collaboration with Shelli Reeves and Reframe History, the Library will delve into the story of Black Glenville on Tuesday, June 15 at 6:30 p.m. The program, entitled Controlled Narrative: Telling Our Own Story. A conversation about Black Glenville will focus on the importance of owning, controlling, and preserving Black history through the art of storytelling. Interested attendees can register for this event.

Want to learn more about Black Glenville? A virtual exhibit, Reframing History: The Rise of Black Glenville, is now available on The exhibit chronicles life in Glenville, the people who live there and what motivates them to stay.

Get inspired at the Cleveland Public Library – Glenville Branch when spoken word artist Siaara Freeman performs in the garden on Friday, June 18 at 2 p.m.

Monumental Crossroads

On Friday, June 18 at 10 a.m., Cleveland Public Library will tackle the vestiges of the Confederacy. The Library will host a virtual screening of the documentary, Monumental Crossroads which explores Confederate monuments, the legacy of Southern Heritage, and its ties to slavery and white supremacy. After the screening, there will be a discussion with film director Tim van den Hoff of Gander Yonder Pictures. Register for the documentary screening and discussion.

What is Free?

In partnership with The Soul of Philanthropy Cleveland (TSOPCLE), Cleveland Public Library will present a conversation, entitled What is Free? on Saturday, June 19 at 12:00 p.m. about the origins of Juneteenth. TSOPCLE and a panel of experts will help bridge the gap between corporate investors and community members to bring awareness about issues that impact the black people living in Cleveland. They will provide guidance on how to attain sustainable freedom through healthy habits and lifestyle changes. The event will also include a choir performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and traditional African dance and drum by Djapo Cultural Arts Institute.

Registration is required. The first 50 people who register for this event will receive a copy of Giving Black: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists by Valaida Fullwood, who is the founder and creator of The Soul of Philanthropy. People can also visit the Celebrate Those Who Give Black exhibit in the lobby of the Cleveland Public Library – Louis Stokes Wing. The exhibit honors African Americans in Cleveland and their contributions to the community. It’s open Monday – Friday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Can’t make it downtown? Experience the exhibit from the comfort of home at

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