A Festive Time in Cleveland

At the Fest with LaJeana, (far l.) are, l.-r.: Teagan Oatey and Tony Costanzo, AT&T; Beth Dawson, Manufacturing Works; and Marsha Mockabee and Goren Dillard, Urban League of Greater Cleveland.

July 13, 2021

On June 17, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law.

As a result, there were numerous events commemorating the new federal holiday – including the Metro Health Cleveland Juneteenth Freedom Fest. Held in the heart of downtown Cleveland, the goal of the event was to educate and celebrate the history of African American culture.

FirstEnergy participated in this celebration and was recognized by the Greater Cleveland Urban League as a workforce partner in our effort to provide information to help residents find job opportunities within the utility industry.

LaJeana Dickson Gilliam, Customer Account specialist II, The Illuminating Company, provided information on current job postings to Cleveland-area registered job seekers.

“The Urban League of Greater Cleveland reached out to me to see if FirstEnergy would like to participate by providing job information for Fest participants,” said LaJeana. “I really enjoyed volunteering there. I had the chance to work with a diverse group of people and with other organizations. It was a great event and I look forward to participating next year.”

In addition to being the official first-ever Juneteenth Fest, it was the first major post-pandemic event held in Cleveland – with hundreds of people attending. COVID-19 safety measures were observed.


On Jan. 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which officially outlawed slavery in the states of the original Confederacy and Texas. Enforcement of the Proclamation was by advancement of Union troops, and it took two years for troops to reach the remote state of Texas. On June 19, 1865, Union Army General Gordon Granger and 2,000 soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and informed more than 250,000 enslaved Black Americans, that slavery had been abolished. This news resulted in much celebration and the tradition continues today.​