Since the social justice protests of summer 2020, when millions of Americans hit the streets to demonstrate against the murder of George Floyd, interest in learning about and celebrating Juneteenth has risen.
Now a federal holiday, Juneteenth—a term shorthand for June 19th—marks the day in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform the enslaved Black Americans there that the Civil War had ended and they were free—more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. The event is often viewed as the day slavery ended.
Juneteenth is celebrated in a variety of ways across the country. Here are a few of the many events happening around New York City this weekend.
The Schomburg Center’s 4th Annual Literary Festival
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is hosting their fourth annual literary festival in Harlem on Saturday June 18th. The festival is meant to bring together book lovers and authors for panels, workshops, readings, and conversations to celebrate Black books and culture. Included in the day are live music outdoors, yoga and meditation, bookmark making, a marketplace and book signings with emerging authors.
When: Saturday, 10:30 am to 6 pm
Where: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X Blvd., Harlem
Admission: Free and open to the public. For more information, visit schomburgcenterlitfest.org
“The Revival: It Is Our Duty”
As the culmination of weekly rehearsals that began in early spring at The Shed, theater artist Troy Anthony and his choir, The Fire Ensemble, are gearing up for a one-night-only performance. “The Revival: It Is Our Duty” showcases songs about freedom, liberation and community building.
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m
Where: The Shed, 545 W. 30th St., Manhattan
Admission: Free and open to the public. For more information, visit theshed.org.
Weeksville Heritage Center and Black-Owned Brooklyn’s Juneteenth Food Festival
The Weeksville Heritage Center is partnering with the film and Instagram producers of Black-Owned Brooklyn for their first food festival. The two organizations, both of which work to preserve Black culture, are hosting over 20 Black-owned food vendors, with cuisine representing nations across the African Diaspora. The event will also offer a small marketplace, cultural performances, cooking demonstrations and DJ sets curated by the Brooklyn-based collectives Papi Juice and Soul Summit.
When: Saturday and Sunday, 12pm to 7pm
Where: Weeksville Heritage Center, 158 Buffalo Ave., Brooklyn
Admission: Free and open to the public; RSVP here.
Museum of the Moving Image Celebrates Juneteenth
The Museum of the Moving Image, in Astoria, will celebrate Juneteenth with an array of family-friendly events. They will be screening “The Princess and the Frog,” Disney’s first feature film to showcase a Black princess. And on Friday through Sunday, museum-goers will have the chance to visit a fantasy world inspired by “The Princess and the Frog” via a green-screen simulation, learn how to design a game that takes them on an adventure into a Black utopian future and create a collage animation that reimagines Black history. Closing out the weekend, there’s an open mic on Sunday where people can share a poem, song or dance — and vie for the opportunity to be crowned Mx Juneteenth.
When: Friday through Sunday, times vary. Visit here for more information.
Where: Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Ave., Astoria
Admission: Free for kids 12 and under. For more information, visit movingimage.us.
Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth
What: Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth, part of The Broadway League’s Black to Broadway Initiative, returns to Times Square with a free 90-minute concert featuring artists performing original works in song, dance, and poetry. The event features cast members from Broadway shows including “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Funny Girl,” “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical.”
When: Sunday, 12 noon to 1:30 pm
Where: Duffy Square in Times Square, Broadway between 45th & 47th Streets
Admission: Free and open to the public. For more information, visit timessquarenyc.org.
The Unsung Collective at Empire State Building
The Unsung Collective, a community-based music ensemble of people of color, will perform four pieces of classical music by Black composers to celebrate Black culture and support Juneteenth as a national holiday.
When: Sunday at 2:15 pm
Where: Empire State Building main lobby, 20 W. 34th St.
Admission: Free to the public. For more information visit theunsungcollective.org.
The New York Botanical Garden Celebrates Juneteenth
Visitors of all ages can enjoy hands-on gardening activities, crafts, cooking demonstrations, and more. The weekend will begin with “A Seat at the Table,” a symposium exploring how Black farming has informed American history and culture in New York City and throughout the US Along with gardening and crafts, there will also be performances by the Harambee Dance Company, who incorporate African dance into their pieces.
When: Saturday through Monday, times vary.
Where: New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Blvd., the Bronx
Admission: Prices vary. For more information, visit nybg.org.