A Juneteenth Summer Celebration took place at Grange Insurance Audubon Center on June 17 in Columbus Ohio. During the summer celebration, Carolyn Finney, author of “Black Faces, White Spaces,” hosted a talk with community members and guests at the Nature Center. Finney's book reimagines the relationship between African Americans and the great outdoors and during her discussion she revealed the perceived and real ways in which nature and the environment are racialized in America. Looking toward the future, she also highlighted the work of African Americans who are opening doors to greater participation in environmental and conservation concerns. Finney looks beyond the discourse of the environmental justice movement to examine how the natural environment has been understood, commodified, and represented by both white and black Americans.
“We hope Carolyn’s talk will plant the seed for African American communities to learn more about how nature can have a positive impact on their physical and mental lives,” said Leigh Ann Miller, Center Director, Grange Insurance Audubon Center. “Watering this seed becomes the next conversation and collaboration with our parks and recreation areas to help inspire and encourage action and exploration, by breaking down existing barriers that may prevent African Americans from embracing a relationship with their natural spaces.”
Following the presentation and community discussion, guests were invited to explore food at the “Soul Crave” and “Too Good Eats” food trucks and stayed for a live jazz concert by the Milton Ruffin Jazz band. The event celebrated Juneteenth and its significance of keeping the memory of emancipation for African Americans and the price of freedom for all Americans through American history in the forefront of our minds. The event was sponsored by Grange Insurance Audubon Center, Grange Insurance Co., Columbus Audubon Society, Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks and Friends of the Metro Parks.