The marker at the African Cemetery No. 2 on East Seventh Street in Lexington was clear even in Saturday's downpour: Clara Hutchinson, born Jan. 12, 1863. She died Oct. 5, 1901.
She was someone's beloved daughter, according to the marker. And she was born at a critical time in the nation's history: shortly after the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared the freedom of all slaves in the South.
But it took 2½ more years for Union soldiers to land at Galveston, Texas, with the news that slavery had ended. Eventually the date — June 19, or "Juneteenth" — became an independence day for black Americans. This year is the sesquicentennial of the first Juneteenth.
Yvonne Giles, who has overseen the Juneteenth celebration at the Lexington cemetery for 12 years, was determined that rain would not stop her planned celebratory and educational program. Even as the deluge started, she hurried around the cemetery, planting American flags on the graves of veterans.
The nearly two-hour Juneteenth program went on smoothly, although Giles periodically had to tip water off the small tents that gave some shelter to ceremony presenters.
A flag ceremony featured men in storm-soaked wool military coats. The history of the black communities in Bracktown, off Leestown Road, was told through monologues, and local historian Kalvin Graves narrated the history of Adamstown, which was around where Memorial Coliseum now stands and provided many of the workers for the construction of the University of Kentucky.
"It was a working-class community," Graves said of Adamstown. "When UK started out, they had to have a labor force."
But even though Adamstown residents helped build the university, they found themselves unwelcome at some of its public events. Graves said some Adamstown residents would climb up on roofs to watch early UK football games.