15 ways to celebrate Juneteenth in NYC
Annual Juneteenth NY Festival in 2018 Photo credit: Juneteenth NY
Although it was recognized as a federal holiday only last year, Juneteenth has been celebrated by Black Americans for more than 150 years. After President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862, it took more than two years for the order to reach enslaved people in Galveston, Texas. Juneteenth was first observed in Texas as “Jubliee Day” on June 19, 1866. Now an official New York and federal holiday, Juneteenth is a day to commemorate and honor Black Americans, as well as renew the fight for equality. In New York City, there are several Juneteenth events happening this weekend, from panel discussions and a bike tour of Brooklyn to live music and a food festival featuring Black vendors.
Photo courtesy of Juneteenth NY
13th Annual Juneteenth NY Festival
Friday, June 17 to Sunday, June 19, Linden Park
Although Juneteenth only was recognized nationally last year, the holiday has been celebrated by communities in East New York and Brownsville for over a decade. The 13th annual Juneteenth NY Festival, the largest of its kind in the state of New York, kicks off virtually on Friday with panel discussions focused on the health and well-being of Black families and the Black community.
On Saturday, the festival continues at Linden Park there will be live performances, vendors, and a food market with food from local, Black-owned restaurants. The Brooklyn Nets and the New York Liberty are hosting a basketball clinic, free-throw contests, and drills for children aged 6-17. On Sunday, a fashion exhibit will feature emerging Black designers and special guest musical performances from award-winning hit singer-songwriter Renée Neufville. A new component to this year’s festival includes The Quilt Project, a multi-city-based initiative exploring the “legacy of Black American textile making.” Participants will be encouraged to design a block in memory of loved ones lost to Covid-19. The completed quilt will be unveiled on the final day of the Festival.
Juneteenth Celebration at the Lewis Latimer House Museum
Saturday, June 18, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Lewis Latimer House Museum 34-41 137th Street, Queens
At Queens’ Lewis Latimer House Museum, the former home of African American inventor Lewis Latimer, there will be an educational celebration of freedom and Black culture. The family-friendly day includes a poetry and portraiture workshop led by Quentin Felton, a Sow the Seeds workshop, where participants will write an ode to ancestors on seed paper sourced from South Africa, a Juneteenth flag installation, and a class on Reiki.
Photo credit: Isseu Diouf Campbell
Schomburg Center Literary Festival: Reading the African Diaspora
Saturday, June 18, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., 135th Street, from Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard to Malcolm X Boulevard; 515 Malcolm X Boulevard
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s 4th annual literary festival takes place this weekend as a celebration of Black literature. For the first time since 2019, the event will be held in person as an outdoor event outside of the center. Authors participating include Jason Reynolds, Roxane Gay, Linda Villarosa, Mateo Askaripour, and more. The festival also includes storytelling workshops with the Harlem Writers Guild and The Moth, a marketplace, and an appearance from the NYPL bookmobile. See the full schedule here.
Juneteenth Food Festival at Weeksville Heritage Center
Saturday and Sunday, June 18 and 19, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 158 Buffalo Avenue in Crown Heights
From the very first celebration in 1866 to the present day, food has always been a part of the Juneteenth tradition. This year, a Juneteenth food festival hosted at Brooklyn’s Weeksville Heritage Center, the site of one of the largest free Black communities in the U.S. before the Civil War, aims to honor customs of the past, while “creating new traditions in our present.” The center, in partnership with Black-Owned Brooklyn, will host an all-day food festival this weekend featuring 20 Black food vendors representing various regions of the African Diaspora. The event also includes educational activities, music by all-Black queer and trans DJs, and a marketplace of Black-owned cultural goods. Admission to the free event will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. See the vendor lineup of the “Taste the Diaspora” food festival here.
Black of Center: Juneteenth Block Festival
Sunday, June 19, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., 13th Street, between 7th Avenue and Greenwich
As part of its month-long Pride celebration, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (aka The Center), will celebrate Juneteenth with an outdoor block party featuring Black LGBTQ artists, businesses, vendors, and more. Events include Drag Story Hour, a deep relaxation yoga session, an exploration of the partner dance Hustle, which was invented in New York City, a musical performance from The Illustrious Blacks, and more. Details here.
Photo of James Weldon Johnson courtesy of Green-Wood Cemetery
Juneteenth Trolley Tour at Green-Wood Cemetery
Sunday, June 19, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Green-Wood Cemetery
The Green-Wood Cemetery is honoring Juneteenth this year with a trolley tour throughout its historic 478-acre grounds. Led by Green-Wood historian Jeff Richman and Medgar Evers College lecturer Moses Phillips, the tour will recognize the men and women who fought for emancipation with a special stop at the grave of James Weldon Johnson, who wrote “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” often referred to as the “Black National Anthem.” The $30 tour is sold out but you can join the waitlist here.
Juneteenth in Queens
Sunday, June 19, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., Roy Wilkins Park in St. Albans, Queens
Hosted by Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman, Juneteenth in Queens is expected to be even bigger and better than last year. Taking place on Sunday at Roy Wilkins Park, the day’s lineup includes live music, yoga, bingo, a scavenger hunt for kids, live art, and more. Reserve a free pass here.
Snug Harbor Cultural Center’s 2nd annual Juneteenth Freedom Festival
Sunday, June 19, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., Snug Harbor Cultural Center-South Meadow, Staten Island
On Staten Island, a Juneteenth event will take place at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden. Hosted by the Jubilee Collective in collaboration with more than a dozen Black-owned businesses, the Juneteenth Freedom Festival is a day full of live performances, art, and educational programming, including a reenactment and a reading of the General Order No. 3 and the Emancipation Proclamation.
Juneteenth Unityfest 2022
Sunday, June 19, Under the K Bridge in Greenpoint and Lena Horne Bandshell at Prospect Park
After a successful inaugural event last year, the Juneteenth Unity Fest returns to Brooklyn with several entertainment and arts events, including a concert held at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! in Prospect Park. The Unityfest kicks off with a block party at the Under the K Bridge Park in Greenpoint with music from DJ Spinna, Josh Milan, Soul Summit Music, and Descendants of Sound. The party then moves to the Lena Horne Bandshell for the Juneteenth Unityfest concert, headlined by award-winning gospel singer and keyboardist Tye Tribbett and with performances from Deborah Cox, Israel Houghton, Mali Music, Robert Randolph, and more. An official after-party takes place at Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg.
Honoring Juneteenth at the Brooklyn Museum with Good Co. Bike Club
Sunday, June 19, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Brooklyn Museum at 200 Eastern Parkway
Self-expression, community, and Black liberation are all at the forefront of the Brooklyn Museum’s Juneteenth event this weekend. The day kicks off with a bike tour of Black landmarks in Brooklyn led by Good Co. Bike Club, a Black-led cycling club. The 18.2-mile ride starts at the museum, stops along the Riegelmann Boardwalk in Coney Island and at Black-owned restaurants, and ends in Prospect Park. Activities at the museum include a Kemetic breathwork session, meditation, poetry performances within the galleries, drop-in art-making, book giveaways, and an Afrocentric dance workshop. The event ends with the music celebration Brown Sugar Bounce, including a performance by Classic NewWave. See the full schedule of events and RSVP here.
Murals translated from artist Joyce Kozloff’s “Parkside Portals” at 86th Street B, C station depicts a map of Seneca Village. Photo © 6sqft
Celebrate Juneteenth in Seneca Village in Central Park
Sunday, June 19, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., west side of Central Park between 82nd and 89th Streets
This weekend, check out Seneca Village, an area of Central Park that was once home to a community of property-owning African Americans during the early 19th century, for a family-friendly Juneteenth event. Throughout the village, artists will be performing dance, poetry, music, and storytelling, all interpreting the history and significance of Juneteenth. The event is free and tickets are not required. The Central Park Conservancy also leads guided tours of Seneca Village throughout the year.
Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth
Sunday, June 19, 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Times Square between 45th and 47th Streets
As part of The Broadway League’s Black to Broadway initiative and in honor of Juneteenth, a free outdoor concert will be held in Times Square on Sunday. The 90-minute show features Black performers, including cast members from shows like The Book of Mormon, Company, Funny Girl, Tina- The Tina Turner Musical, among others. Plus, kids from current and recent Broadway shows will perform a rendition of “Young, Gifted, and Black.”
De Shields as Frederick Douglass in his 2021 performance at Flushing Town Hall (credit: Lia Chang)
Broadway star André De Shields takes on Frederick Douglass at Flushing Town Hall
Sunday, June 19, at Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Boulevard
Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Award-winning Broadway star André De Shields will be performing his self-crafted solo show, André De Shields is Frederick Douglass: Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory, for one night only on Juneteenth. Notably, this month marks 157 years since Douglass himself appeared at Flushing Town Hall in 1865 to deliver a speech titled “The Past and Present.” There will be two performances on June 19, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Buy tickets here.
Brooklyn Conservatory of Music Juneteenth Celebration
Sunday, June 19, from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Shirley Chisholm Circle in Brower Park
Since Juneteenth also falls on Father’s Day this year, the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music will celebrate Black fathers during an event in Brower Park this weekend. The free event includes performances by the Brooklyn United Marching Band, music students from Noel Pointer, acclaimed Ghanaian percussionist Amos Gabia, father-son DJ duo, along with a reading from “What is Juneteenth?” by Kristi Jewel and tales of Black heritage from around the world. There will also be a craft table set up for kids.
Juneteenth Celebration! At Van Cortlandt Park
Monday, June 20, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Van Cortlandt Park
A Juneteenth celebration hosted by Van Cortlandt Park Alliance and Bronx Arts Ensemble will take place on Monday. The program begins at the Van Cortlandt Golf House with music and spoken word performances, followed by a procession with drums to the Enslaved African Burial Ground for a ceremony honoring enslaved people. Reserve your spot at the free event here.