Learn more about our celebration of art, education and inclusion at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival!
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19th, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major-General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with the news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This announcement came two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation became official. The Emancipation Proclamation had had little impact on the Texans because there weren’t enough Union troops to enforce it. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to overcome the resistance to the Executive order.
Today, Juneteenth commemorates African-American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week—and in some areas a month—marked by celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings. In cities across the country, people of all backgrounds come together to celebrate this shared history.
Every year, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s company members put together a variety show featuring music, dance and storytelling that highlights the African American experience. This year’s show will feature the stories of thirteen unsung African American women who have left their mark on the fields of music, fine art, literature, theatre and social justice.
Juneteenth Scholarship Fund
In 1998, OSF actor and teaching artist, Aldo Billingslea, created the Juneteenth Scholarship Fund to enable more African American students to attend the Summer Seminar for High School Juniors. He held the first fundraiser in his back yard, and 15 years later the tradition continues on our OSF Green Show Stage. The Summer Seminar is two intensive weeks of activities designed to introduce 65 students to the many aspects of professional theatre. These activities include forums, workshops, discussions and playgoing events taught by members of the OSF company. This year’s Summer Seminar will take place July 29 – August 10.
Please join us for OSF’s Juneteenth celebration on Monday, June 24 at 12pm on our Green Show Stage. Donations for the Juneteenth Scholarship Fund will be collected before and after the variety show.