10 Events to Celebrate Juneteenth This Year

From brunches to block parties, our roundup of how to celebrate the newest national U.S. holiday

© Jake May
© Jake May

6.19.21

A celebration of freedom and Black culture, Juneteenth, is an annual commemoration of the day General Granger announced freedom for 250,000 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas. Two years after the official signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln, June 19th 1865 marks the day of actual freedom. Celebrated with festive fervor across the U.S. every year, with everything from parades to BBQs, Juneteenth is a true hallmark of black liberation. This year also marks a huge exciting milestone, with legislation just being passed Thursday, to make it an official national U.S. holiday. 

Below, our round up of some great ways around the country to celebrate. And given that this is A Hotel Life, it’s only fitting that many of the events below take place in a hotel!

Mic Check #Freedom – Kintsugi, Eaton D.C.

Join local artists and activists from the Freedom Futures Collective for outdoor music starting at 4:30 p.m. in front of Kintsugi, at one of our favorite hotels, the Eaton D.C.

Freedom Futures Collective
Freedom Futures Collective

Block parties and park performances in L.A.

Celebrate with Dj Qwess, Mama Nae Nae of S.H.I.N.E. and the Muwasi Drum Circle. Plus, tons of food vendors and free admission from 12:00 – 8:00 p.m. June 19 at Leimert Park Village. Then the party continues at the B-Hen Block Party, with it’s ninth installment in DTLA with live sets by Earry Hall, Printz, DJ Nico, Brian Henry, Suga Shay, and 3Blackkids performance. 9:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m. June 19. Get tix here.

Leimert Park Rising
Leimert Park Rising

Jazz and Poetry at The Betsy Hotel, Miami, FL

Down south in Florida, The Betsy Hotel will host live jazz in the lobby featuring vocalists Carole Ann Taylor, Leesa Richards, Brenda Alford and Nicole Yarling. The celebrations continue with “Poetry, Music and Conversation at the Poetry Rail” with presentations from Geoffrey Philip and Rebecca ‘Butterfly’ Vaughns with Gregory LeDon, Saxophone. RSVP here.

Jazz Line-up at The Betsy Hotel ©️The Betsy Hotel, South Beach, Florida
Jazz Line-up at The Betsy Hotel ©️The Betsy Hotel, South Beach, Florida

I Dream a Dream That Dreams Back at Me – Lincoln Center of Performing Arts, New York, NY

Conceived and curated by award winning poet and artist, Carl Hancock Rux, the Lincoln Center of Performing Arts will host an evening-long celebration, unveiled in four distinct parts of the venue, each with its own set of musical performances and artists. The tailored experience draws inspiration from the narratives of enslaved people seeking and finding freedom and features artists including Nona Hendryx, Helga Davis, Vernon Reid, Marcelle Davies-Lashley, Kimberly Nichole, Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely.

©️Lincoln Center of Performing Arts
©️Lincoln Center of Performing Arts

A Celebration of Black Excellence – 7-Course Tasting Menu – Oakland, CA

Chefs Brandon Rowan-Taylor (BRTables), Elijah Brown (Pimpin’ Chkn’) and Eva Allen (Full Belly Bakery) collaborated to bring to the tables at L Loft Space in Oakland a menu inspired by classic culinary delights of New Orleans and elevated with the nuances of Californian cooking. The seven course meal, paired with wine, promises to be fabulous. Tickets on sale here.

Chef Brandon Rowan-Taylor (BRTables)
Chef Brandon Rowan-Taylor (BRTables)

Boston Black Restaurant Month – Boston, MA

Put on by the Boston Black Hospitality Coalition (BBHC), with over 70 restaurants and cocktail bars participating, celebrate food, culture and community at Boston’s Black-owned restaurants from June 1 – 30. Indulge in traditional flavors that spotlight a rich history and heritage. Check out the full event and dining guide here.

©️bostonusa.com
©️bostonusa.com

Hip-Hop Inspired Brunch – Origin Hotel Lexington, Lexington, KY

Enjoy flavors inspired by hip-hop with a brunch menu complete with bottomless mimosas, crafted by featured chef Lawrence Weeks (whose recent work focuses on using sustainably sourced seafood to contribute to a healthier environment). Event starts June 19, 12 pm, including classic hip-hop played by  DJ Forerunner. More details and tickets here.

©️ Rachel Park on Unsplash
©️ Rachel Park on Unsplash

Juneteenth New York Festival – Brooklyn, New York

Not a new festival on the block, the Juneteenth New York Festival has seen a constant upward rise in attendees over the years, with a whopping 20,000 virtual participants last year, with each year focusing on a theme that educates the Black community on its history while changing the narrative of the devastating impact of slavery. This time, the festival will be a hybrid event featuring both in-person and online events. A three-day celebration, the event has various workshops, live performances by acclaimed artists, a platform for vendors and fun family activities scheduled, Click here more information.

© Juneteenth Family Day Facebook
© Juneteenth Family Day Facebook

Mural Unveiling – Galveston, Texas

And if you are interested in heading to the spot where it all began 156 years ago, Galveston Texas, then be sure to check out the 5,000 square foot mural by artist Reginald Adams, titled “Absolute Equality.” There is also a “Emancipation Processional Re-enactment” at the Old Galveston Courthouse at 6:00 p.m. And if you want to continue the celebrations, check out the fireworks display at 29th and Seawall at 8:30 p.m.

Absolute Equality Mural ©️ Juneteenth Legacy Project
Absolute Equality Mural ©️ Juneteenth Legacy Project

 Virtual Juneteenth Unity Fest 

Unity Fest, hosted by Amanda Seales and JB Smoove, provides a platform to learn about Juneteenth and its legacy via musical performances, inspiring remarks, films, comedy, storytelling and appearances by civic leaders and influencers. The line-up includes heavy hitters like Earth, Wind & Fire, Nile Rodgers & Chic, India.Arie, Black Pumas as well as featuring Phylicia Rashād, Wayne Brady, Billy Porter among others. The best part is, you can participate from anywhere in the world, stream live here.

Juneteenth Unityfest
Juneteenth Unityfest
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