Singer Darlene Benton will be the featured vocalist at the Juneteenth—Freedom Day Festival on historic Woodstock Square on Saturday, June 17 from 3 to 5:30 pm.
Benton has been singing since the age of 4. Her roots have taken her to gospel and jazz. She has sung throughout the Chicagoland area at such notable venues as the Auditorium Theatre, the House of Blues, the Chicago Hilton, and the Hemmens Culture Center. While her vocals have been requested by such iconic gospel artists as Albertina Walker, her true love is leading and ministering to the hearts and souls of people through praise and worship. Currently, she is working on her own material as a gifted songwriter.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the date when enslaved persons in Galveston, Texas, who had been cut off from news of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 when the Union took control of the length of the Mississippi River, first heard that they had been freed from an order read by the Union general who arrived with troops to take control of the port. It became an annual festival in cities and towns across Texas in the post-Civil War Era. In this century observations have spread across the United States as a Jubilee day of liberation.
This first ever McHenry County celebration was organized by Gloria Van Hof, a McHenry County Board member, noted Underground Railroad historian, and long-time activist along with other community leaders.
The program will feature speakers, musical performances, and readings with food trucks, vendors, and fun family activities on the Square.