Juneteenth rally, Grand Army Plaza. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images
Juneteenth celebrations commemorating the freedom of the last enslaved people of African descent in the United States are taking place across this City this month. While African Americans—largely in the South and Midwest—have observed this historic moment for decades, Juneteenth was not recognized as a federal holiday until June 2021. As awareness around the holiday grows, it is important to remember the history of this significant day.
While the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, declared the freedom of enslaved people in the United States, several states under Confederate control continued the practice of slavery until being compelled to acknowledge the edict by Union troops. The last of these was Texas, which enslaved African Americans until June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston to enforce the proclamation—the date subsequently commemorated. Slavery was officially abolished across the nation later that year with the ratification of the 13th Amendment.
Read on for a few of the many Juneteenth celebrations taking place in New York City this month.
Carnegie Hall’s annual Juneteenth celebration. Photo: Chris Lee
Carnegie Hall Presents Annual Juneteenth Celebration: All American Freedom Day: Reimagining Togetherness
June 19, 7pm, 881 Seventh Ave., Midtown West
Carnegie Hall’s annual Juneteenth celebration features a night of music, dance and commentary hosted by actor David Alan Grier, best known for his work in 1990s television show In Living Color and roles in Porgy and Bess and A Soldier’s Play. The event also honors African American poet Sonia Sanchez and activist Opal Lee, known as the Grandmother of Juneteenth, who campaigned for years to make Juneteenth a nationally recognized holiday. Performers include Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Choir, Naima Penniman, pianist Joseph Joubert and Forces of Nature dance company.
Museum of the City of New York – Freedom Week: A Journey Into Art & Activism
June 11–17, 1220 Fifth Ave., Upper East Side
Part of the museum’s Activist New York programming, Freedom Week starts with a workshop for participants to make capes or flags and print T-shirts—the goal being to explore the creation of art and its role in accomplishing “justice, equality and freedom for all.” Other events include The Playwright as Activist: Lorraine Hansberry’s Legacy, a discussion of theater in activism; Cocktails and Culture: Songs of Freedom, a night of grooving to Afrobeat, hip-hop, reggae and house music; and an acoustic show by Martha Redbone Roots Project.
June 17, 7–10pm, Marcus Garvey Park, 18 Mt. Morris Park West, Harlem
Summer of Soul is an Oscar-winning documentary film that spotlights the impact of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival—a six-week celebration of Black history, culture, fashion and music in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park). What better way to celebrate Juneteenth then to watch a free screening in this same park? Programming begins at 7pm, and the movie starts at 8pm.
Tyler Perry. Courtesy, Tribeca Festival
Tribeca Festival Juneteenth Program 2022
June 8–19, various locations
Over the course of its run, the Tribeca Festival has a lineup of programming featuring Black filmmakers and storytellers. Among the films being screened is the documentary After Sherman, told through accounts of the Black community in the filmmaker’s South Carolina hometown—where land that has been in his family for 150 years is the same land on which his ancestors were once enslaved. The festival also includes talks with famous names such as Gayle King, Tyler Perry, Cynthia Erivo, Pharrell Williams and W. Kamau Bell.
Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth
June 19, noon to 1:30pm, Duffy Square, Broadway between 45th & 47th Streets, Times Square
Join the Broadway League’s Black to Broadway initiative for a concert emphasizing Black artistry and community. It features Black performers and is produced by Black creatives and allies from various Broadway shows.
Courtesy, Juneteenth New York Festival
Juneteenth New York Festival
June 17–19, various locations
The East New York and Brownsville communities of Brooklyn help play host to Juneteenth NY: Unity in the Black Family Unit. After an initial day of online panel discussions, the festival will hold an in-person community day at Linden Park with a basketball clinic featuring members of the Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty, live performances from local talent and several local food and clothing vendors. The final day, at Prospect Park, includes a fashion show and a musical performance from Renée Neufville, of the R&B duo Zhane.
Mali Music. Courtesy, BRIC
BRIC – Celebrate Brooklyn! Presents: Juneteenth Unityfest 2022
June 19, doors open 6:30pm, Lena Horne Bandshell, 9th Street & Prospect Park West, Prospect Park
This concert, presented in collaboration with the Robert Randolph Foundation—which holds a few other Juneteenth events under the Unityfest banner—will amplify the stories of Black people through music and storytelling. With a growing lineup of performers including Tye Tribbett, Israel Houghton and Mali Music, the show is a cool way to spend a warm summer night.
Soul in Focus, Juneteenth 2021, Brooklyn Museum. Courtesy, Brooklyn Museum
Honoring Juneteenth at Brooklyn Museum
June 19, 11am to 7pm, 200 Eastern Pkwy., Prospect Heights
Brooklyn Museum has a packed day of activities celebrating Black liberation, self-expression, community and creativity. Good Company Bike Club will lead a Freedom Ride, guiding participants to borough landmarks significant to the Black community. There will be Egyptian-inspired yoga classes, poetry, drop-in family-fun activities such as art making, a reading corner, a sound bath and dance performances.
Weeksville Heritage Center and Black-owned Brooklyn's Juneteenth Food Festival
June 18–19, 158 Buffalo Ave., Crown Heights
A celebration of the Black diaspora through food, this festival highlights the culinary dishes of countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. Some of Brooklyn’s most popular Black-owned restaurants, such as Lakou Café, Department of Culture Brooklyn, Patsy’s Rum Cake, Brooklyn Sweet Spot and Greedi Vegan, will take part. Brooklyn-based DJs from Soul Summit Music collective help provide the music. Guests can purchase goods from the Black-owned vendors who will be on site.
I AM caribBEING Prospect Park: Juneteenth + One Love Little Caribbean Day
June 19, 4–9pm, Prospect Park Boathouse, Lincoln Road and Ocean Avenue, Prospect Park
June is also Caribbean American Heritage Month, and Caribbeing is partnering with Prospect Park Alliance to celebrate both Juneteenth and Caribbean pride. Festivities include a live performance by Grammy winner Angela Hunte; crafts from local vendors; programming by Fun with Friends, including life-size game activations, card tables and DJ sets; and a self-care rooftop experience powered by I Don’t Do Clubs and Take Care Wellness.
The Lay Out Presents Juneteenth
June 19, 11am–6pm, Fort Greene Park, Fort Greene
The Lay Out creates programming throughout the year centered around joy in the Black community. Their annual Juneteenth event serves to help reclaim “space and peace as a form of protest.” Programming includes a morning meditation, a Black history tour of Fort Greene Park, an artisan and food market and live DJ sets.
André De Shields is Frederick Douglass: Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory. Photo: Lia Chang
André De Shields is Frederick Douglass: Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory
June 19, 2pm & 7pm, 137-35 Northern Blvd., Flushing
André De Shields, a Tony, Grammy and Emmy winner known for his roles in Broadway productions such as The Wiz, The Full Monty and, most recently, Hadestown, performs an excerpt from his solo work at Flushing Town Hall. The performance tells the intricacies of Frederick Douglass’ life as he went from enslavement to freedom and became one of the country’s best-known abolitionists. The show also includes a gospel performance by jazz ensemble Chuck Fowler and Company.
Museum of the Moving Image. Photo: Christos Katsiaouni/MoMI
Celebrate Juneteenth at MoMI
June 17–19, 36-01 35th Ave., Astoria
Museum of the Moving Image offers a weekend of interactive fun for the family. See yourself as a Disney fairytale character a green-screen media lab where you can become part of a retelling of The Princess and the Frog. Explore a Black utopian future while learning how to design a video game. Participate in a scavenger hunt that teaches the participants about Lena Horne and Martin Luther King Jr. And watch as attendees perform poems, songs and dance connected to the themes of Juneteenth and Black identity—or sign up to perform yourself.
Courtesy, Juneteenth in Queens
Juneteenth in Queens
June 19, noon to 7pm, Roy Wilkins Park, Merrick and Baisley Boulevards, St. Albans
Taking place in Roy Wilkins Park, a popular spot for borough events, Juneteenth in Queens features workshops, food and clothing vendors, and interactive family fun. A series of virtual happenings, including a town hall meeting on reparations in the Black community, leads up to the day. On Sunday at the park, you’ll find wellness workshops and vendors, a Black beauty bazaar, Black Fashion Row, an art exhibit and market, and a kids’ clubhouse.
June 19, 11am–4pm, Pelham Bay Park
Come out to Pelham Bay Park for a day honoring family and unity. The programming, put on by a number of local arts and events organizations, features wellness activities such as yoga and zumba as well as live performances and interactive activities for the kids.
Juneteenth Freedom Festival. Courtesy, HERShot!
Juneteenth Freedom Festival
June 18–19, 1000 Richmond Terrace, Randall Manor
The Jubilee Collective, along with Snug Harbor Cultural Center and the National Lighthouse Museum, presents two days of Juneteenth festivities. On Saturday, there’s a Freedom Parade, followed by music, dance and a reenactment of the Union troops announcing freedom to the enslaved people of Galveston, Texas, held at the National Lighthouse Museum. Sunday’s events at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center include performances, a market, a fashion show and health and wellness booths. In honor of Father’s Day, a dedicated installation at the Tuscan Garden offers interactive games, haircuts and other activities.