ASHLAND, Ore. -- The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is helping the community celebrate Juneteenth. That's the celebration of slavery ending in the United States.
OSF is shaking it up this year. It usually celebrates Juneteenth with a variety show full of dance, music and art. This year, it went a step further. It's the first year the company is dedicating an entire day to celebrating the day all slaves knew they were free.
"It just helps to enrich the day more than just a one off. It helps conversation to continue throughout the day and hopefully on to tomorrow," said OSF actor and Juneteenth Curator/Director Christiana Clark.
The day started with a round-table discussion about standing up to racial injustices.
“Leading this discussion, ‘Black Joy and Pain’ having allies in the world just increases the amount of freedom that I'm able to have walking around in America and walking around specifically in this town. This discussion is really important to me," added the discussion’s leader and OSF’s Associate Director of Leadership Engagement Kamilah Long.
It continued with a reading of a play called PLANATION!---a comedy about reparations.
“There's conversations that are being had but also it’s showing that actions need to be taken. We can talk about things all day but we know the issue. We know that we need to start talking about ways that we can really do something," said playwright Kevin Douglas.
All the events center around this year's theme, Activate: A Roll Call and Response. It asks everyone to think and talk about how the community and the rest of the country can improve on race issues.
"It also reminds me that the reality of what that freedom looks like is something that we collectively need to be working towards because I would say we have come a long way since the days of enslavement but there is still much more to go before there is true freedom and equality her," Clark added.
Juneteenth organizers hope these discussions on race will continue beyond this celebration.
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