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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Cincinnati Juneteenth Festival Goes Virtual During Pandemic

Courtesy of Cincinnati Juneteenth Committee
The pandemic means performances like this one from 2019 will be virtual in 2020.

Cincinnati's Juneteenth festival is going virtual this year. Juneteenth is the nationwide commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

Since the pandemic forced the cancellation of the annual event in Eden Park, organizers put together two video concerts that will air this weekend. Cincinnati JuneteenthCommittee Director Lydia Morgan says musical groups that were scheduled to perform this year instead recorded performances. Those have been combined with videos from speakers and vendors and will air Friday and Saturday.

A second video performance honoring Father's Day will air Sunday. Watch apreview here.

"One of the things that we really wanted is that people would get an idea of celebrating Juneteenth just like you celebrate the Fourth of July," says Morgan. "We have the festival in the park every year but this year we're offering you the opportunity to celebrate it in your own home."

Morgan says the committee sees this as an opportunity to make Juneteenth and African American history accessible to more people in a new way.

"One of the reasons that we do Juneteenth is so that people will understand the legacy of slavery that is still with us. All of the things that are going on right now with the contact of black men with police and the judiciary system is a big part of that legacy."

Here's the schedule:

The concerts will also be available on YouTube and Vimeo.

Juneteenth is marked on June 19, the day in 1865 Union soldiers arrived in Galvaston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and President Abraham Lincoln had freed enslaved peoples more than two years prior with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Cincinnati Juneteenth Committee and Cincinnati council members will raise the Juneteenth flag at City Hall Friday, June 19 at 10 a.m.

Freedom Center Helps Launch

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is one of five black museums and historical institutions launching a website on Juneteenth. is described as a digital Juneteenth commemoration.

"The year 2020 also marks the 150th anniversary of the Fifteenth Amendment and the right of black men to the ballot after the Civil War," says Chris Miller, senior director of education and community engagement for the Freedom Center. "As we celebrate Juneteenth, it's an opportunity for us to reflect and act on the continued struggle and intersectionality of justice, freedom and democracy."

According to a statement, " is a combined effort between the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (Detroit, MI), Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park (Hilton Head Island, SC), Northwest African American Museum (Seattle, WA), Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater (Miami, FL) and the National Civil Rights Museum (Memphis, TN). Through educational content, artistic performances and shareable discussion prompts, this collaborative program will explore the meaning and relevance of freedom, justice and democracy in black American life, from a historical and contemporary framework."

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.