BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Saturday afternoon, the Wooster Green on South Church St. in Bowling Green was packed with people celebrating Juneteenth. The holiday commemorates the official end of slavery in the United States. The event was organized by B.R.A.V.E. (Black Rights. Activism. Visibility. Equity.), which strives to provide resources through community development and engagement.
Event organizers are proud of the turnout, which has increased since the first year the event was held in 2020.
"These events allow the communities of color to openly express themselves, and that means so much. Things like that travel distances, when you talk about creating a community that's inclusive and diverse," said BRAVE executive director Anthony King.
The event featured food, live music, and tents filled with Black-owned businesses. People also heard stories of Black community members, like Shakir Blackett. Blackett is a Bowling Green State University grad from Barbados, and says the BG community is similar to his origins.
"It's a beautiful holiday to share Black culture. It's about sharing. We want to be inclusive to everyone, and just spread awareness about it," said Blackett. "The university helps draw people from all walks of life."
Bowling Green Mayor Mike Aspacher says the growing turnout is a sign of the growing inclusion and acceptance by the greater community.
"I'm so grateful. I'm so grateful for the efforts of the people that worked so hard to organize this event and present it for our community," said Mayor Aspacher. "It's really important that we're recognizing this event here in Bowling Green, and I'm grateful for those that are responsible for presenting it."
Organizers are happy to see the event grow from a few in 2020, to hundreds today, garnering sponsorships by BGSU along the way. Officials want to see the growth continue for years to come.
"At that time, we built our stage using resources donated from Home Depot," said King. "It's crazy to see the stage and the growth and the people able to enjoy it now. It's inspiring for the community, and I'm hoping that it's impactful for the folks that are here."
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