Juneteenth will be commemorated across the United States on June 19 with music, art, food and fireworks. We highlight programs in five places, including Galveston, Texas, known as the birthplace of the holiday.

On a stage, various African American performers, including six performers wearing all white and holding microphones, are arrayed on a stage. Behind them is a large poster that reads
Performers from the Karamu House theater sing at last year’s Juneteenth Freedom Fest in Cleveland.Credit...Matt Shiffler

Although the celebration of Juneteenth, which commemorates June 19, 1865, as the end of slavery, has gained popularity in recent years, it’s long been a deeply personal holiday acknowledged by many African American families and communities. My family was one of them. Our house was decorated with portraits of my father’s hero, the abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who scandalized the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society when he delivered the famous speech “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” in 1852. For the ancestors of Black Americans, freedom did not occur on July 4, 1776, but nearly 90 years later.

After Black Americans’ decades-long struggle to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act in 2021. Since then, celebrations have grown across the country in the form of concerts, parades, educational programming and festivals. Below are five places to visit this long Juneteenth weekend, with activities scheduled from June 16 to 19.

Known as the birthplace of Juneteenth, Galveston was where Gen. Gordon Granger of the Union Army ordered the freedom of more than 250,000 enslaved Black people in the state of Texas on June 19, 1865. It was the last stop on a long march for Union troops across the Confederate South, freeing the enslaved as they went. The first documented Juneteenth celebration took place in Galveston the following year, a tradition that has continued there for 157 years.


The Juneteenth Emancipation March is a re-enactment of the first celebration of emancipation that took place in Galveston over 150 years ago. Above, last year’s march in Galveston.Credit...Galveston County Daily News

“Juneteenth was recognized as a state holiday in 1980, but our families have been celebrating Juneteenth since 1866,” said Sam Collins, a lifelong Galveston resident as well as the historian and a co-chair of the Juneteenth Legacy Project, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to recontextualize Juneteenth as a pivotal moment in U.S. history.

“I think what is so often lost is the story of the ancestors and elders that kept this history going by acknowledging the day even when the larger society wouldn’t acknowledge it. Juneteenth didn’t become important because it became a national holiday, and it didn’t become important in 2020 after the unfortunate murder of George Floyd. It has always been important to the former enslaved and their descendants.”

At various times on Juneteenth weekend, you can stand in the spot where General Granger read his proclamation on a guided Juneteenth Freedom Trail Tour, led by Juneteenth and Beyond Black History Guided Tours ($25), and continue on a walk that highlights other stops integral to Black history in the city. The Nia Cultural Center, headquarters of the Juneteenth Legacy Project, will host a gospel-centered Emancipation Celebration on Friday at the Grand 1894 Opera House with live music to honor social justice pioneers (from $20).

Saturday presents plenty of celebration options. There’s the Galveston Juneteenth Festival at Menard Park, a family-friendly event with live music, food, a youth basketball tournament and Black artist art walk, and the Juneteenth Parade & Picnic at Wright Cuney Park. On Monday at 10 a.m. is the 44th annual Emancipation Proclamation reading at Ashton Villa, which honors the legacy of State Representative Al Edwards, the principal proponent of the Juneteenth Texas state holiday. At 6 p.m. that day, one of the most poignant events is the Emancipation March, a re-enactment of the first celebration of emancipation that took place in Galveston on Jan. 1, 1866. Hundreds of people will take part in the procession, welcoming others to join them along the way, and it’s led by city elders who honor the legacy of the United States Colored Troops who enforced the freedom proclamation.

A vacation getaway for African American families since the early 20th century, particularly the town of Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard has only recently started celebrating Juneteenth. What began in 2021 as an informal gathering on the front porch of the Narragansett House, owned by Kahina Van Dyke of Inkwell Haven Hospitality, is now the Juneteenth Jubilee Cultural Festival, featuring musical performances, cultural discussions and a special Sunday Service at Union Chapel. Saturday will start with the Juneteenth flag-raising ceremony at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs, followed by musical performances and a conversation with the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. All events are free.


Visitors enjoying hors d’oeuvres at last year’s Juneteenth Jubilee reception at the Narragansett House in Oak Bluffs, Mass., on Martha’s Vineyard.Credit...Emmai Alaquiva

At Vineyard Haven Harbor, a replica of the Amistad, a ship that became famous after a group of enslaved Africans led a successful revolt and won their freedom in the U.S. Supreme Court in 1841, will host free public tours all weekend, and a screening of the film “Amistad” will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Culinary-minded travelers will want to visit the 2nd Annual Taste of Juneteenth, hosted by the N.A.A.C.P. Martha’s Vineyard branch, on Sunday from 6 to 9 p.m., featuring cuisine from local Indigenous and Black bakers and chefs like Julianne Vanderhoop of Orange Peel Bakery and Ralston Francis of Edgartown Diner, alongside Black-owned vendors, a live art show and live music. On Monday, the Edgartown Yacht Club will host a Juneteenth gospel brunch honoring Bill Pinkney, the first African American to solo-circumnavigate the world, and a performance by the R&B artist Athene Wilson.


The artist Lacy Talley took part in a live art demonstration at last year’s Juneteenth Freedom Fest in Cleveland.Credit...Matt Shiffler

You’d be hard pressed to find a Juneteenth celebration that doesn’t include music, but in Cleveland you can celebrate the origins of Black music at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. On Thursday, June 15, the museum will host a Juneteenth panel discussion connecting gospel to the roots of rock ’n’ roll, with a performance by the local gospel group the Christian Brothers. Friday and Saturday is the MetroHealth Cleveland Juneteenth Freedom Fest, starting with fireworks over downtown Cleveland on Friday evening. Saturday will feature a day of dance and music, with performances by artists from Karamu House (one of America’s oldest theaters to produce works honoring the Black experience), Djapo Cultural Arts Institute and Hubbs Groove. There will also be interactive art demos, a roller skating rink and a “soul food row” of cuisine from Black-owned restaurants.

Saturday also offers a Pride-meets-Juneteenth celebration in the form of Mx. Juneteenth: A Black & Queer Liberation Celebration at the BLK PunX Press Studio event space. Expect live music, drag performances, educational workshops, local vendors and tons of dancing. Finally, for a more physical experience, visit the Djapo Cultural Arts Institute on Saturday and Sunday for its 14th annual Juneteenth African Dance & Drum Fest to learn a variety of traditional African dance styles from Senegal, Mali, Brazil, Guinea and Haiti.

Though Los Angeles was a hub for formerly enslaved Black Americans and their descendants escaping racial violence in the South as early as the 1890s, the city didn’t formally acknowledge Juneteenth as an official holiday until 2022. However, Angelenos began celebrating the holiday on their own years before. One of the biggest parties takes place at the Juneteenth Festival on June 19 at Leimert Park Village, where revelers have gathered to celebrate freedom through art, music, food and education since 2018. School buses with hoops attached serve as impromptu basketball courts for pickup games, there’s music for line dancing, and 300 vendors offer handmade artworks, crafts and Caribbean food.


The yoga instructor Constance Hartwell led a yoga session during last year’s Black History Month at the California African American Museum. She will return to lead a class this year for Juneteenth.Credit...California African American Museum/HRDWRKER

If you’d rather ease into the holiday, the California African American Museum will host a Juneteenth Wellness Day on Sunday. From 10 to 11 a.m. there’s a 60-minute yoga flow and meditation class from the instructor Constance Hartwell on the museum lawn, followed by a group meditation and sound bath from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., led by the Black-owned wellness company Sol & Sound. A newer addition to the Juneteenth lineup in Los Angeles is the second Juneteenth: A Global Celebration of Freedom concert at the Greek Theater on Monday. The musicians Miguel, Kirk Franklin, SWV, Davido, Coi Leray and Jodeci are scheduled to perform, and the show will be broadcast live on CNN.

Juneteenth holds particular significance in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia, where the arrival of the first African captives in Jamestown in 1619 is widely used as a reference point for the origins of slavery in America. The region doesn’t run from its history, particularly in Hampton and Norfolk, where visitors can take self-guided Black history driving tours or visit the historically Black colleges Norfolk State University and Hampton University.


Scenes from last year’s Juneteenth Jam skateboard contest in Portsmouth, Va. Left photo: Toney Herndon (right) of Hard Times Skate Shop in Portsmouth presents Adam Snowden (left) with the contest’s first place award. Right photo: The skateboarder Leshawn Lewis performs some tricks.Credit...David Smith and Ryan del Rosario

For Juneteenth weekend, the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk will host an evening of short-film screenings and spoken-word poetry under the stars at its Freedom on Film: Juneteenth at the Chrysler Museum event on Friday. Saturday at Town Point Park is Juneteenth in the Park, an educational festival focused on career and professional development, with interviews, health and wellness activities, financial education sessions and live music. Nearby, the Urban League of Hampton Roads will host its second annual Juneteenth Freedom Day Festival in Portsmouth on Monday, offering food, and performances by the ’90s favorite R&B artist Montell Jordan and the R&B girl group 702. Also on Monday in Portsmouth is the Juneteenth Jam at Cradock Skate Park, featuring a skateboarding contest, games and food trucks, part of the larger Hard Times Go Skate Daze community skateboarding event.

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