PADUCAH — Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom.
Next Wednesday, communities nationwide will remember the anniversary of June 19, 1865, when enslaved African Americans in Texas learned they were free.
The city of Paducah, in partnership with the Paducah–McCracken County NAACP, will join in on the celebration.


Paducah’s rich Black history is no secret.
This Juneteenth holiday, Toby Smith, from Charleston, South Carolina, will indulge in that history.
As the keynote speaker at Paducah’s Juneteenth Celebration at the Carson Center, she hopes to share some of her own.

“I am the second generation away from a precious little girl, by the name of Idella, who survived the transatlantic slave trade as a baby of 8-years-old by herself,” Smith said.

Smith said Juneteenth is a day of freedom, education and history.

“I understand people might think, ‘Well, that’s finished, it’s over.’ No, we’re only a generation or two in some cases away. And we’re still dealing with the implications of what occurred,” said Smith.


Paducah is known for its own local celebration of emancipation, Aug. 8.
Smith said Juneteenth only enhances the celebration Paducah has put on for decades.

“It’s local, you put that Kentucky twist on it, if you will. That’s very, very special. It brings people out. In the same way, having what happened in West Texas blow up the way it has, gives the perspective a nationwide focus,” Smith said.


She hopes to see families dance, hear great music, and learn the country’s history.
The event starts at 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, at the Carson Center.
A fish fry supper, butterfly release and concert with ice cream and crafts for kids will follow on the Carson Center lawn.