The Village of Oak Park | 123 Madison St.  Oak Park, IL 60302 |

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Car caravan, picnic to highlight Juneteenth celebration

June 15, 2021 – Residents are invited to join in Oak Park’s celebration of Juneteenth this Saturday, June 19.

The celebration, which was organized by community members and co-sponsored by the Village, will include a car caravan that is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. at Taylor Park, loop the Village and return to the park for a community picnic at 4 p.m.

Participants are encouraged to decorate their cars and wear red, black and green to mark the occasion.

The car caravan will proceed east along Division Street to Austin Boulevard, south to Madison Street, then north on Oak Park Avenue returning to Taylor Park via Division Street - click here to see a route map.

Portions of Division Street, Austin Boulevard, Madison Street and Oak Park Avenue will be temporarily closed to traffic during the caravan. Residents are encouraged to seek alternate driving routes from 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday to avoid any delays.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when a U.S. Army general read orders in Galveston, Texas that all previously enslaved people were free.

Although the Emancipation Proclamation had formally freed them almost two and a half years earlier, and the American Civil War had largely ended with the defeat of the Confederate States in April, Texas was the most remote of the slave states, with a low presence of Union troops, so enforcement of the proclamation had been slow and inconsistent.

Through the years since, Juneteenth has offered an opportunity celebrate freedom and equal rights in the United States. 

Juneteenth has long been recognized as an important day among many Oak Parkers, and the Village Board made it official last year when it voted unanimously to support a proclamation to formally observe the holiday every June 19.

A similar resolution was passed by Village Board earlier this month – click here to read the Juneteenth proclamation.

Village officials also hosted a special flag-raising ceremony to commemorate Juneteenth earlier this month at Village Hall. The event featured speeches about the history of Juneteenth and live music.