This week, Black folks all around the country are gearing up to observe and honor Juneteenth. Marking the holiday’s 156th anniversary, June 19—or “Jubilee Day” or “Freedom Day”—commemorates the day that the last enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas were finally notified of their freedom (even though they had technically been freed a whole two and half years prior, but that’s a story for another day.) From that point on and on that day every year since, Black folks from all walks of life come together to recognize the history and significance of that anniversary through various events—and this year is no exception, as it’s finally a national holiday!
Pandora’s Box pandemic has made us switch up the ways in which we can come together and celebrate, in the words of McFadden & Whitehead: “ain’t no stopping us now!” So if you’re picking up what we’re putting down, keep reading for a handful of entertainment and event options to help you ring in the Juneteenth holiday the right way!
In commemoration of Juneteenth, Accenture and the Apollo Theater invite you to “Meet Me at the Apollo,” an immersive virtual tour of the Apollo Theater presented by Billy “Mr. Apollo” Mitchell. There will also be opportunities to dialogue with senior Apollo leaders around ways to empower the next generation of African American and Black creators and technology leaders. Featured guests include: Pharrell Williams; Author and Host of Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, Emmanuel Acho; Executive Producer of the Apollo Theater Kamilah Forbes, and more. Festivities begin at 5 p.m.ET. For more information be sure to go here.
The Illinois Holocaust Museum will virtually commemorate Juneteenth by paying tribute to the victims, survivors, and descendants of the Tulsa Massacre in a virtual commemoration and panel, 100 Years Later: The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Dr. David Gray, professor of American Studies at Oklahoma State University will lead a thought-provoking discussion with Project Director for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission Phil Armstrong and Carlos Moreno, author of The Victory of Greenwood. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. ET, to register visit here.
#HIREBLACK, the black woman-led recruiting events and marketing organization dedicated to getting 10,000 Black women hired, trained and promoted, will host their #HIREBLACK Juneteenth MentorMatch for Black women in celebration of Juneteenth and the organization’s first anniversary. Participants will be matched with executive leaders, hiring managers, and recruiters at top companies for resume reviews or career advice. This historic event will provide 15,000 coaching minutes to Black women in one day. For more info on how you can grab your ticket, please visit here.
Join the National Civil Rights Museum for BLKFreedom, the virtual Juneteenth collaborative event held in tandem with nine Black museums and historical institutions. The annual collaboration will also premiere a film documenting the national exploration of the deep-rooted anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” through the eyes of historic museums and anthropologists from across the United States. For more information on how to virtually attend, be sure to visit their website.
Paging all Colorado Springs, Colo. folks: The free, three-day Juneteenth celebration in Colorado Springs will be taking place at America the Beautiful Park this weekend. The celebration will feature national artist headliners, local step-show talent, a car show, fashion show, and endless games and activities. For more info, be sure to check out the official event page.
ON JUNETEENTH, JUNE 19
Be sure to catch the world premiere of renowned Black composer Adolphus Hailstork’s Tulsa 1921 (Pity These Ashes, Pity This Dust), an operatic retelling of the Tulsa Race Massacre featuring star mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges. The premiere will take place as a digital streamed concert on Juneteenth at 7 pm, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the the massacre at the Greenwood District and the Juneteenth holiday. Visit the website for more info.
America Sings, Opera Saratoga’s free concert series created to amplify the voices of artists from racial groups historically underrepresented on the concert stage, will return to Caffè Lena in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. for A Juneteenth Celebration. Curated by bass-baritone Carl DuPont, the concert program includes prose and poetry —along with an extraordinary selection of music by African American composers as well as a variety of spoken word selections. The program will also include firsthand diary accounts and poetry from formerly enslaved people, as well as newspaper copy of the observation of the first Juneteenth celebrations. AMERICA SINGS: A Juneteenth Celebration takes place at 2 p.m. ET. To access the concert and for additional information please visit their website.
Celebrate the music and arts of Black creatives at the 15th annual St. Augustine Music Festival (SAMF). The festival kicks off with two concerts of spiritual and classical works performed by world-class musicians. Between the concerts, guests can view an African American art and photography exhibit on display on June 19, 2021. Conceived as a free classical music concert series to celebrate the rich artistic and cultural traditions of St. Augustine, Fl., the annual festival has become a highlight of the summer season. The free event will be held at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre. For more info, be sure to visit here.
Where are my North Carolinians at? The Carolina Core, a region encompassing cities such as Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point has played a major role in African American history and will see a variety of Juneteenth celebrations happening across each city. Greensboro, home of the Civil Rights sit-in, will feature special events such as Juneteenth GSO: Farmers Market Edition, Arts Legacy Awards, Black Food Truck Fest and much more! Just 20 minutes away in Winston-Salem, they’ll be celebrating the holiday with their very own Juneteenth Festival as well.
Additionally, in Fayetteville, NC: The Juneteenth Freedom Festival will be taking place virtually this year. Attendees can enjoy music, speakers, workshops, vendors and more. To sign up and for more information, be sure to visit here.
If you’re in the Chattanooga, Tenn. area, make sure you check out the 4th Annual Chattanooga Festival of Black Arts & Ideas. The main event, Juneteenth Independence Day, will be held at Community Haven in East Chattanooga with a block party. The multidisciplinary festival aims to spotlight emerging and established local Black artists and build greater community awareness of the diversity of Black arts within Chattanooga and Hamilton County. Events range from a youth town hall, to a film festival, visual arts exhibition, genealogy workshop and so much more.
Loudoun County, Va. residents, be sure to visit the historic town of Leesburg, Virginia for the inaugural Juneteenth Celebration at Ida Lee Park. Created by the “BURG” Family Reunion Club, this daylong event will celebrate the occasion as well as educate visitors on the significance of June 19. The day includes guest speakers, a variety of musical acts including the Chuck Brown Band, food, craft beverages and more. The event runs from noon until 6 pm.
Hey Cincinnati folks, the Mobile Black Wall Street Juneteenth Festival will be taking place at the Esoteric Brewery, Cincinnati’s first Black and Asian-owned brewery. The event will feature local businesses and live entertainment brought in by the Cincinnati Music Accelerator. For further details, be sure to go here.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is hosting a day of outdoor programs to celebrate Juneteenth and honor the contributions of Black artists, scholars and creative voices to the City of Boston. Drop-in activities will include art-making, Spotlight Talks focused on artwork by the MFA’s artist-in-residence Rob Stull and musical performances curated by BAMS Fest, hosted by D.Ruff. In the evening, the MFA will host a free outdoor early screening of Questlove’s Summer of Soul, presented in partnership with the Roxbury International Film Festival, before the film’s wide release in theaters and on Hulu on July 2. The Museum will also provide transportation between the MFA, the National Center for Afro-American Artists and the Slave Narrative of Willie Mae live show at the Blair Lot in Nubian Square. For more info, be sure to go here.
Join The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts for an evening-long performance commemorating Juneteenth, I Dream a Dream That Dreams Back at Me, A Juneteenth Celebration. Beginning at 7p.m. ET and conceived and curated by award-winning poet and artist Carl Hancock Rux, the site-specific experience will unfold in four distinct parts across the Lincoln Center campus. Drawing inspiration from the narratives of enslaved people seeking and finding freedom, visitors will kick the evening off with Part I Prelude: Doctrine of Three Angels, a musical performance chronicling the journey taken by abolitionist and activist Harriet Tubman. For more information and to secure your free tickets, visit its website.
Join the newly created platform International Black Heritage + History Month as it seeks to connect cultural bridges, promote healing, honor inclusivity and celebrate diversity across the African Diaspora. Taking place on Juneteenth, the International Black Heritage Month will feature curated selections of recommended films, factual content, music, podcasts, articles, and other media from around the world. There will also be a curated Calendar, wellness section, Culture Lab, and virtual photography exhibition titled ‘Mixed Voices’ as well. For more information on how to view the official programming, be sure to visit the website.
Tap in with JB Smoove and Amanda Seales as they host the first annual (and virtual) Juneteenth UnityFest, featuring performances by Earth Wind & Fire, Nile Rogers, Robert Randolph, and more. The event will bring together people of all backgrounds in a day of unity to commemorate and celebrate Juneteenth and Black culture with musical performances, appearances by civic leaders and influencers, films, comedy, and storytelling. Most importantly, the event serves as a national platform for a coalition of charitable and grassroots organizations to gain much deserved attention and support for their work in advancing national unity. You can tune into the virtual event by visiting the website.
Artpark & Company presents Juneteenth: From the Past to the Living Present with Rhiannon Giddens featuring Yo-Yo Ma as part of the outdoor season of the Sonic Trails festival, curated and co-produced by Sozo Creative. Weaving banjo, folk music, and storytelling, this guided walk centers the profound contributions of African Americans on American culture, music and history, seeking to imagine a society of inclusion, connection, empathy and justice. To make reservations or for further information, visit the website.