Center for African American History, Art, Culture hosting reopening on Juneteenth in Aiken | Local News

The Center for African American History, Art and Culture in Aiken will host a grand reopening while also celebrating Juneteenth.

The Juneteenth celebration will be from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 19, and admission to the center is free. Parking will be across the street at Aiken’s First Baptist Church, 120 Chesterfield St. N., which is directly across from the center.

“The building will be open for tours,” said Dr. Melencia Johnson, a board member with the Center for African American History, Art and Culture. “We’ll have some exhibits that are put on by art students from USC Aiken; we’re going to have some exhibits that are alone from the Aiken County Historical Museum, detailing the founders of Aiken County and some other history of Aiken County here in the building.” 

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, but it wasn’t until June 19, 1865, that the slaves in Texas found out they were free. Now that day is known as Juneteenth, a holiday that many African Americans celebrate.

The center is going to have live music, a large tent people can sit under with lawn chairs, a few vendors, line dancing, artistic activities for the youth, a space for learning African dancing and more.

Johnson said they are giving the children the opportunity to learn about African American history, art and culture by doing it hands on.

“Black folks have been celebrating Juneteenth since the early days in the early 1900s and prior to that; and I think this is a great time in Aiken. Juneteenth has been celebrated here in Aiken by the center since about 2006,” Johnson said.

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This event will be full of food, fun, information and education, Johnson said.

Johnson mentioned two of their key sponsors, Savannah River Site and Aiken Regional Medical Centers, provided a good amount of funding and Dominion Energy provided the center with a grant to get them “off the ground” for this celebration and to move forward.

Since the early 2000s, the center has had a Juneteenth celebration; but last year, due to the pandemic, it was not able to have one. Now that all of the renovations are done and some time has passed, the center is ready to reopen.

Once open, the center will focus on African American history and how it relates to Aiken County and South Carolina. There are also going to be different exhibits on display moving forward.

Masks will not be required for the outside activities but enforced when inside of the center on the tours.

For more information, visit

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