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Harriet Tubman Play, Talent Show Among Akron's Juneteenth Events

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Summit County Historical Society
As part of Akron's Juneteenth festivities, the Summit County Historical Society will present a play by Reva Golden, who portrays Harriet Tubman along with Corin B. Self (left) as Frederick Douglass and Dennis Runkle as John Brown.

Community groups in Akron are marking Juneteenth this weekend with a number of events – including one to honor the man who worked tirelessly to bring the annual celebration of emancipation to Northeast Ohio.

“There's going to be multiple events here in Akron for Juneteenth,” says Leianne Heppner, head of the Summit County Historical Society. She fondly remembers the work of Gerald Carter, a videographer for WAKR-TV and a community activist who organized Juneteenth events in Akron for the past two decades.

"He was the person that brought Juneteenth to Akron.”

Carter passed away last fall, and this year’s events include a talent show in his name at Hawkins Park on Saturday. Heppner says the historical society is also holding a community talk back event, picnic, and stage performance.

Reva Golden has written a short play about the life of Captain John Brown, in which she portrays Harriet Tubman and her time meeting Brown and Canada in 1858. And then it includes a little bit about his time here in Akron and that relationship of Perkins and Brown and how Brown ended up in Springfield, MA, where he met Frederick Douglass.”

Dara Harper is with the Akron Black Artists’ Guild, which is co-sponsoring many of the events at Hawkins Park.

“They will have a black-owned businesses with different pop-up tents. Also, they'll have the Gerald Carter Teen Talent Show. And then from 5:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m., an open community conversation. And then at 7:00 p.m., a car show.

“They have break dancing in the Akron Art Museum garden. And also -- throughout downtown, at the restaurants -- musicians will be performing the whole time on an hourly rotation. That was something big that the Black Artist Guild helped to curate as well.”

Harper says the greater interest in Juneteenth this year is likely due to several factors, including increased calls for diversity and equity, as well as the public’s re-emergence from the coronavirus pandemic.

A full schedule of events is here.

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Juneteenth will be marked throughout Akron in downtown, at the John Brown House, and in Hawkins Park. There will also be a panel on Sunday afternoon at the Exchange House.