Lincoln city council denies funding for Juneteenth, Pride events

The Lincoln City Council refused funding for Juneteenth and Pride celebrations at a March meeting, claiming that there were not enough funds.

On March 29, representatives of the Logan County Pride and Juneteenth festivals attended the Lincoln City Council meeting to request funding for Logan County’s newly created festivals. The representative for Juneteenth, Jennifer Hunt, had previously requested $10,000 in funding. The representative for Logan County Pride, Kelsi Edwards, requested $8,500 in funding. After previously submitting an official budget proposal, the budgets were trimmed to $2,500 and $1,500 respectively. After a second City Council meeting on April 12, it was decided that no funding was to be awarded to either event from the City of Lincoln.

The funds were requested to be taken from the City of Lincoln’s share of the Hotel/Motel Tax Fund. The City of Lincoln regularly uses this fund for events such as the Third Fridays and the Lincoln Art and Balloon festival. Mayor Tracy Welch, objected on the grounds that the funding pool is too small, and needed by other city-run festivals in Lincoln. Alderman Sam Downs was the lone supporter of the two festivals at the meeting. Two motions were made by Downs to provide a combined $3,500 to the two festivals. Neither motion was supported by other council members. Without further discussion from the council, both requests were recorded as “no” votes.

Downs stated that he was “shocked” by the council’s actions.

“I was very disheartened by the events. I wished that at least, the council would have voted on the motion.,” he said. He encouraged citizens to “Get out there and vote”!

Members of the Diversity and Inclusion Commission, which was created by the Lincoln City Council, were quick to respond. A letter was written and signed by members of the D&I commission, condemning the lack of action from the city council. Former Alderman Ron Keller, who is partially responsible for the creation of the commission, penned an open letter to the council. Keller took particular issue with the council’s disregard for Juneteenth, citing both Juneteenth’s status as a national holiday and the city being christened by Lincoln himself. The funding denial comes at a painful time for the LGBTQ community, whose rights are being challenged at the legislative level nationwide. The council’s decision also unfortunately coincides with the untimely closing of Lincoln College: the only predominantly black institution in Illinois outside of the Chicagoland area.

The actions, or lack thereof, shocked both represented communities. Michelle Bauer, a member of the city’s D&I Commission, had this to say to the city council:

“You had the opportunity to show who we could be as a community and instead you showed who you are, now”.

The festival organizers for Juneteenth were able to secure $500 in funding from the Logan County Tourism Bureau. According to Pride organizers, Memorial Health offered a “generous donations” At the time of this article, Pride organizers have not secured any funding from Logan County.

Juneteenth will be held on June 19 in Lincoln. More event details are expected soon. Logan County Pride will be held on June 25 2 p.m. at the Logan County Fairgrounds.

To donate to Logan County Pride, send checks or money orders to:

Logan County Pride 
P.O. Box 612 
Lincoln, IL 62656 

Digital payments can be sent through Venmo (@Kelsi-Edwards-5) or Cashapp ($KelsiMaaks ).

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