Celebrating Juneteenth 2024: Toledo’s Vibrant Tribute to Freedom and Community

Kathleen Greely

By Asia Nail
The Truth Reporter

The spirit of Juneteenth is alive and thriving in Toledo, Ohio, where the Community Reinvestment Coalition – Englewood SW, led by Kathleen Greely, is orchestrating a celebration that embodies the resilience, unity and joy of the Black community. This year’s flagship Toledo JuneteenthNY Celebration is a six-day extravaganza, from June 13 to 19, packed with events designed to uplift, educate, and empower. It’s a celebration that promises to be as rich and diverse as the history it honors.

A Journey from Our Roots

Imagine a canvas painted with brushstrokes of history, culture, and progress. This is what the JuneteenthNY Toledo Celebration represents. Kathleen Greely, the executive director of the Community Reinvestment Coalition, has poured her heart and soul into this event, ensuring it reflects the collective journey of Black and Brown people.

“When I think about our journey and how we’ve risen from the Reconstruction era, like Black Wall Street, it’s clear that we thrived when we supported each other,” says Greely. This year’s celebration is all about reclaiming that narrative and fostering a sense of community and mutual support.

Juneteenth Pregame: Minority Health Summit

Health equity is a critical focus in this year’s celebration. The Minority Health Summit held this past Sunday, June 9, was an experiment in focusing early attention on a basic community need.

Kicking Off with Fun and Games: The Kids Zone Extravaganza

The Juneteenth Toledo Celebration kicks off on Thursday June 13 with a lively Kids Zone event at both Smith Park (grades 9-12) & Robinson Park (grades k-8), offering a day brimming with fun and engaging activities for children of all ages. At Smith Park, the day starts with a burst of energy as kids dive into swimming, golf, and basketball clinics, setting the stage for an exhilarating morning. Meanwhile, Robinson Park becomes a hub of excitement with tennis and football clinics, followed by a spirited kickball tournament.

As the day progresses, both parks come alive with stage performances showcasing the talents of local K-12 students, and the evening culminates with soulful R&B performances promising to keep everyone grooving. With baseball clinics and a thrilling baseball game rounding out the day at Robinson Park, the Kids Zone event is set to be a highlight of the Juneteenth celebration, offering a joyous blend of sports, music, and community spirit.

Culinary Delights: The Juneteenth Crawl

The dining festivities begin with the Juneteenth Crawl, a culinary journey from June 13 to 18 showcasing the vibrant flavors of seven Black-owned local restaurants, including Jamaican Spice, Lyte House, Club Evolution, TurkeyUp, This is It, Bertha’s Kitchen and Jera’s Heavenly Sweet. Each night offers a feast of Afrocentric cuisine, entertainment, and great conversation. “This year we thought let’s create an activity that will require folks to simply go to another Black business and have fun, just have a great time,” says Greely. This initiative is more than great eats; it’s a celebration of Black entrepreneurship and community spirit.

Uniting Through History: Black Wall Street Event

On June 13, Black Wall Street Community Development is also hosting an event at TTEC (Ternion Training and Education Center) bringing together entrepreneurs, investors, and mentors for a night of networking and inspiration. This event is about more than just business; it’s a tribute to the thriving Black communities of today and a commitment to building a prosperous future. “Our black communities are beginning their healing journeys,” says Greely. “There is also a conversation around reparations that we agreed really needs to be looked at and discussed.”

Honoring the Kings: Black Kings Awards

The pinnacle of the Juneteenth Toledo Celebration is the Black Kings Awards on June 19. Inspired by the principles of Kwanzaa, this awards reception will honor 28 influential Black men who have made significant contributions to the Toledo community. From the Unity Award to the Faith Award, each accolade celebrates excellence in various fields, from business and art to community leadership and faith. “The celebration of Black Kings is about recognizing those who have restored people to their purpose and used their voice for community issues,” explains Greely.

Empowering the Future: Workforce Development

Economic empowerment is a cornerstone of the Juneteenth Toledo Celebration. On Friday June 28, a Workforce Development Event at TTEC on Hill and Reynolds will feature a job fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In collaboration with the NAACP, Pathway Inc., and United Ways African American Leadership Council, this event is designed to help individuals who are unemployed or underemployed find their footing in the job market. “Many can get a job, but how do we keep it? How do we understand the unwritten rules in the workplace?” Greely asks. The job preparedness workshops, both virtual and onsite, aim to answer these questions and equip attendees with the skills they need to thrive.

Building a Healing Village

The theme of healing runs through every event of the Juneteenth Toledo Celebration. From the Minority Health Summit to the Black Kings Awards, the intention is clear: to create a supportive and nurturing environment where the community can come together to heal and grow. Greely passionately states, “It takes a village and THE VILLAGE NEEDS TO HEAL.” This celebration is a step towards that healing, providing a platform for discussions, learning, and community building.

A Call to Action: Join the Celebration

The Juneteenth Toledo Celebration is more than just an event; it’s a quest. Greely’s heartfelt letter invites everyone to be part of this transformative experience: “This year marks the beginning of our community’s journey towards recovery with a focus on village healing. We invite you to be a part of this pivotal moment as we come together to address these pressing topics and work towards building stronger, more resilient societies.”

For those looking to support this mission, the Community Reinvestment Coalition kindly requests an annual membership fee of $20. This contribution will enable the continuation of impactful events and initiatives, fostering a healthier and more equitable future for all.

“There is a dedicated effort to raise funds for ten scholarship recipients to enroll in Dr. Joy DeGruy’s transformative coursework,” says Greely. DeGruy, PhD, the esteemed author of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing, delves deep into the residual impacts of trauma on African descendants in the Americas. Her work lays a critical foundation for understanding how historical traumas continue to shape present-day attitudes and behaviors. By addressing these deep-seated issues, her coursework aims to help participants recognize and eliminate non-productive coping mechanisms developed during periods of intense racial oppression.

As the festivities of Juneteenth 2024 unfold in Toledo, they serve as a vibrant reminder of the strength, resilience, and unity of our Black community. Events like these truly honor our history and celebrate our culture. Join the Juneteenth Toledo Celebration fun!  It’s time to come together, support each other, and continue the journey towards a brighter, more equitable future.

Find the events calendar @toledo.juneteenthnyworldwide.com