Celebrate Juneteenth in Oakland County: Honoring the Memory of Elizabeth Denison Forth

Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, marks the order, issued by Major General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865 that proclaimed liberation for enslaved African Americans in Texas. They were the last group of people to be freed after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier.

Resistance, resilience, and elation not only represent Juneteenth but so does Elizabeth Denison Forth, who became Pontiac’s first black property owner when she purchased 48.5 acres of land in 1825. Years later, she sold the property that is now a part of Oak Hill Cemetery. When Forth died, she willed a portion of her estate to be used toward the construction of Saint James Episcopal Chapel on Grosse Ile. She is buried in Detroit’s Elmwood Cemetery.

In 2022, Zach Curtis, a local artist, painted a 65-foot mural of her surrounded by roses on the side of the Riker Building facing the southbound side of Woodward Avenue.

Oakland County is proud to honor Elizabeth Denison Forth and celebrate Juneteenth with residents on Wednesday, June 14 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Oakland County Courthouse – South Entrance Lawn. Please join us for food trucks, giveaways, entertainment and education on the importance of Juneteenth and Elizabeth Denison Forth.

Event Highlights


Live DJ
Welcome Missionary Baptist Church Choir
Music by Lauryn Herrin
Historical Marker Dedication
Flag Raising Ceremony
Juneteenth History
Quest Athletics performance


Food Trucks

Meet & Greet Tables with representatives from the following departments:

To learn more about Oakland County’s efforts to make our region more inclusive, visit the official website for the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: www.oakgov.com/equity.

Follow along with Oakland County on FacebookInstagramLinkedInPinterest, Twitter, and YouTube using #OaklandCounty, or visit our website for news and events year-round.

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