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Juneteenth is the oldest African American ‘holiday’ in the United States commemorating slavery’s end. While not one of the 10 official federal holidays observed in all 50 states, Juneteenth is an official state holiday in Texas and treated as a ceremonial day of observance in every state except Hawaii, Montana, South Dakota, and North Dakota. And it is not consistently observed, because it is still relatively obscure.

During the month of June there will be Juneteenth celebrations taking place that range from large community events to dinners to family festivals and concerts. Here is an overview of several events from coast to coast. Take special note of the dates.

A Celebration of Emancipation and Freedom, Bluffton SC

June 7-8, 2019

Friday, June 7th is scheduled at the Bluffton Oyster Factory Park – 46 Wharf Street, Bluffton, SC 29910, 6-8 pm, The Gullah Shout Series. The Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday, June 8th, at the Bluffton Oyster Factory Park, will feature a day of live performances, organized activities, food vendors, and arts and craft vendors.

Juneteenth Free Family Day, Savannah GA

June 8, 2019

Annual festival of Savannah history and Gullah culture, hosted by Telfair Museums at the Jepson Center, with performances, storytelling, art and craft demonstrations and children’s activities. Free admission, all welcome.

Juneteenth in DC Festival, Washington DC

June 15, 2019

The Festival is located in Southeast DC and is an exciting day of pop-up shops and food trucks, music, and activities for the entire family. An addition to this festival is social justice workshops with a community education focus that includes information on tenant rights and police brutality.

California African American Museum Juneteenth Celebration, Exposition Park, LA

June 15, 2019

A family-friendly and community event, Juneteenth Celebration also celebrates tradition and culture. Attendees have the opportunity to learn about quilting and create squares for quilts; create ancestral masks; and participate in a drum circle.

Heritage: Juneteenth Celebration, (James) Beard House, NYC

June 18, 2019

A continuation of last year’s Juneteenth dinner, this year’s event in the Heritage series features amazing culinarians representing several regions of the United States: Adrian Lipscombe (WI), Joi Chevalier (TX), Omar Tate (NYC), David Thomas (MD), Chris Williams (TX), Enrika Williams (MS), and Shannon Mustipher (NY).

A Gulf Coast Juneteenth, Houston TX

June 19, 2019

This is Miller Outdoor Park’s beloved blues and creole music festival. This year’s event features the music of The Soul Rebels who have been featured in movies and on NPR’s Tiny Desk series.

Westside Juneteenth Celebration, Chicago IL

June 22, 2019

This Chicago Juneteenth event focuses on showcasing black-owned businesses and artists. Family-friendly, the festival features a live DJ as well as other performers.

The Eiteljorg Commemorates African American Emancipation with a Juneteenth Celebration

Juneteenth events are taking place all over the country and the number of cities observing it is increasing by the year. They are also diverse in the way organizers are choosing to celebrate. For some states like Missouri, where slavery was legally abolished before Lincoln’s emancipation, the celebration takes place on or around June 19 with a focus on the state and freedom in general. Monique Wells is known to have hosted Juneteenth events in Paris.

Statesman and orator Frederick Douglass said in a speech at Rochester, NY’s Corinthian Hall, “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine, you may rejoice, I must mourn.” The celebration of Juneteenth is a reversal and profoundly personal fête of freedom Mr. Douglass would appreciate.




Robin Caldwell

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