Juneteenth events set in Indy as holiday receives federal recognition


INDIANAPOLIS — Organizers are putting the finishing touches on events ahead of Juneteenth in Indianapolis.

This is the first time celebrations will happen underneath the holiday’s federal recognition.

Juneteenth, which is observed on June 19th, commemorates the end of slavery. In 1865, it was the day slaves were freed in Texas.

“Representation matters, and to see a holiday that’s dedicated to African Americans be respected and highlighted, it’s very special and awesome to see,” said Indy Juneteenth President and Co-Founder James Webb. “One of the stains on America’s dress, if you will, is slavery and this is the freedom of that. So this is a very important day in American history, and it should be treated that way federally.”

“It really warms my heart to see the nation coming together, to see the community coming together, just highlighting and holding it in a high regard, as it should be, this holiday that’s commemorative for us,” said Biketeenth Organizer De’Ja Tibbs.

Both organizations plan to host events on Saturday for Juneteenth.

Indy Juneteenth, which has held events throughout the week, is planning for its annual parade and festival at Riverside Park. The parade starts at 10 a.m. on 28th Street and ends at Riverside Park; the festival follows at noon at Shelter Five.

Organizers say the events include live music, live dance performances, food from black-owned restaurants and a host of other appearances and surprises.

While excitement is brewing in the progress of Juneteenth and its recognition, Indy Juneteenth Vice-President and co-founder Twjonia Webb, says there’s still ways to go.

“It’s an ongoing job, we’re not there yet,” she began. “Although there’s a lot of people that are becoming more aware to the holiday Juneteenth, but we definitely want to make sure they know the reason that they’re celebrating and know the story behind it.”

Indy Juneteenth is also a non-profit organization that hosts events throughout the year. They are always accepting donations to help support their mission of education, awareness and community outreach for not just the holiday, but other issues and causes in the black community.

Biketeenth is also happening Saturday. The event incorporates health and fitness, along with education, through an eight mile bike ride on Indy’s Cultural Trail.

The event, which started in June 2020, was created during the social unrest and police brutality protests. Organizers say the event continues to grow, sparking dreams of expanding in the future.

“It’s more than what I could’ve dreamed of,” said co-founder Cassie Smith-Johnson, “It’s more than what I imagined. It’s honestly more than what I planned. I just want to continue to watch it grow, and expand and maybe go outside of Indianapolis, maybe other cities will start having their own versions of Biketeenth. It’s beautiful.”

You can register online before the event, or at 11 a.m. the day of.

The ride is from noon to 3 p.m. starting at Central Christian Church on North Delaware Street.

Organizers say the ride is at leisure and family-friendly, anyone and all ages are welcome. Donations and part of the proceeds benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis.

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