OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) will celebrate Juneteenth with “Freedom Songs” on Thursday, June 15, from 5-8 p.m. at the Oklahoma History Center.

Juneteenth is the celebration of emancipation following the American Civil War. On June 19, 1865, US Army Major General Gordon Granger proclaimed the end of slavery at Galveston, Texas. News of emancipation spread north to the enslaved people in Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) at different times during the summer of 1865. However, emancipation was not immediate for all enslaved people. It was enforced later through the Reconstruction Treaties of 1866.

The event will include a book signing, live performances, discussions, a fashion show and presentations by students. Featured performers include Loria Philips, Bonita Franklin, Starr Fisher and students of the Gamma Epsilon chapter of Phi Delta Kappa sorority. Author Carmen Fields will sign copies of her new book, “Going Back to T-Town: The Ernie Fields Territory Big Band,” and hold a discussion on the struggles her father faced. There will also be a fashion show that focuses on African culture. Attendees are invited to wear traditional cultural regalia.

Dr. Markus Smith will serve as master of ceremonies. Smith is a professor of political science at Oklahoma City Community College, realtor/CEO/team leader and author of “Journey Through the Hoods.”

Planning for the 2023 Juneteenth event has included participation from scholars, students, volunteers and members of the community.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Registration ends at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, June 13. Light refreshments will be served. The Oklahoma History Center is located at 800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr. in Oklahoma City.

This annual event is part of the OHS’ Multicultural Office (OHSMO) and its “People of Oklahoma” series. The OHSMO aims to develop programs and outreach initiatives to tell the story of all Oklahomans, including the diverse and historically underrepresented communities.

This annual event is part of the OHS’ Multicultural Office (OHSMO), and the Black Heritage Committee, and is supported in part by the Oklahoma Arts Council, which receives support from the State of Oklahoma and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Oklahoma Arts Council is the official state agency for the support and development of the arts. The agency’s mission is to lead in the advancement of Oklahoma’s thriving arts industry. The Oklahoma Arts Council provides approximately 425 grants to nearly 275 organizations in communities statewide each year, organizes professional development opportunities for the state’s arts and cultural industry, and manages the art collections at the Oklahoma State Capitol. More information is available at arts.ok.gov.

The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma and its people. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.