The Reds Community Fund celebrated Juneteenth with a special event at the P&G MLB Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy last Saturday.
Two days after President Joe Biden signed a law officially recognizing Juneteenth (June 19) as a federal holiday, the Reds Youth Academy welcomed the local community for a celebration that included free food, guest speakers and a city-wide softball tournament.
“It was an honor to be able to share the history, present day declaration of Juneteenth now being recognized as a federal holiday, and the current political implications of what it means to be ‘free’ as a Black person in America,” said Tiffany Brown of the Urban League of Great Southwestern Ohio. “I thought the idea of having the celebration at a time when the park was in use was genius. As an organizer, getting an audience is everything. The food, the music and the game are definitely things to keep for next year and beyond.”
While the weather required a few adjustments to the day’s original agenda, there was still a strong turnout and fun was had by all. DJ Styles provided the evening’s soundtrack, Ron’s BBQ (a minority-owned, Madisonville-based business) served dinner and Brown and Dr. Alvin Crawford of the A.A.C.E. ownership group (a Reds limited partnership unit consisting of local Black business and community leaders) spoke to the crowd. Following the ceremony, the Reds 14U RBI softball team played in the Cincinnati Metro Championship Tournament.
“This was the first of what will likely be an annual event,” said Reds Community Fund executive director Charley Frank. “Part of our mission at the Reds Academy is to engage the surrounding community and to celebrate history. Juneteenth is a perfect opportunity for us to accomplish both goals, while adding some context about the holiday for many of our kids and families. Two of our RBI Softball teams that participated in the weekend C-Metro tournament were front and center during the ceremony, and I hope that the speakers and program inspired them.”
The words shared were certainly inspiring. Before the softball game began, Brown delivered a powerful message that was sure to have resonated with everyone in attendance about how the struggle for freedom and equality continues to this day.
“As we stand here reflecting on the history of Juneteenth, now it’s 2021, and we’re in Cincinnati, Ohio, still waiting for the Union soldiers to show up to the Black community with our freedom,” Brown said on Saturday. “Until then, we are only free-ish. Free in name but not in deed. We don’t need any more novelties or statues. We need guarantees that we will never again be infringed upon.”