Juneteenth Events

June 19 is Juneteenth, the oldest nationally-celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, about two months after the end of the Civil War, Union Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas with the message that the war had ended, and informed all previously enslaved people of their freedom. Though Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was made in 1863, many states did not enforce the Proclamation until the end of the war and the arrival of Granger’s forces.

June 19, 1865—also known as Juneteenth, Juneteenth Independence Day, Freedom Day, or Emancipation Day—became the true day of freedom from enslavement for many in the U.S. Juneteenth 2020 marks the 155th anniversary of this day, which for many Black Americans has become a day of celebration filled with parades, performances, music, food, and more. Juneteenth is a designated state holiday in many, but not all, U.S. states, and the movement to make the day a national holiday is gaining increasing momentum.

Now, amidst the uprisings against police brutality and systemic racism, the stakes feel higher. In the words of Duke University African American studies scholar Mark Anthony Neal: “Many African-Americans, black Americans, feels as though this is the first time in a long time that they have been heard in a way across the culture. I think Juneteenth feels a little different now. It’s an opportunity for folks to kind of catch their breath about what has been this incredible pace of change and shifting that we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks” (The New York Times).

Below are a selection of Juneteenth events and celebrations taking place in Seattle and across the country, including play readings, dance and music performances, panel discussions, and more.


Follow The Stranger’s Guide to Juneteenth 2020 Events in Seattle: Solidarity Marches, Music Shows, and More Ways to Celebrate Black History & Justice on June 19 and Beyond

June 15–21: Juneteenth Week 2020, featuring music, storytelling, performances, and more all week long. Hosted by the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County, Tabor 100, and the FW Black Collective.

June 17 at 7 p.m. PT: Juneteenth: Ijeoma Oluo and Ahamefule Oluo in Conversation. Join Ijeoma Oluo in conversation with Ahamefule Oluo for a live webcast in celebration of Juneteenth, Black joy, liberation, and creativity. Presented by The King County Library System.

Juneteenth Poetry/Story Reading with Georgia S. Wade and Guests
June 19 at 6 p.m.
We Out Here Seattle 2020
Platform: Zoom


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Observes Juneteenth by Streaming Donald Byrd’s Greenwood
June 18 at 4 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. ET, available through June 25
Platform: Online Stream
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will observe Juneteenth by streaming Donald Byrd’s Greenwood, an ensemble work that draws on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre as a source. "Set to music by Israeli violist and composer Emmanuel Witzthum, Greenwood, which made its world premiere in 2019, navigates through one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history and explores the story through the different lenses of those who were affected. To learn more about Greenwood and the history of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, visit Ailey’s blog."

BlkFreedom, a Juneteenth Virtual Celebration
June 19 at 9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. ET
Platform: Online Stream - free admission
The Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) is co-hosting a national virtual Juneteenth event in collaboration with other Black museums across the country, featuring Lonnie Bunch, the first Black Secretary of the Smithsonian; Dr. Carla Hayden, the first Black U.S. Librarian of Congress; and Johnnetta Betsch Cole, noted educator, author, speaker, and consultant on diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion in educational institutions, museums, and other workplaces. Through educational content, artistic performances, and shareable discussion prompts, this collaborative endeavor explores the meaning and relevance of “Freedom”, “Justice,” and “Democracy” in African American life.

Honoring the 155th Anniversary of Juneteenth: Creative Outlet Dance Theatre / Hope Boykin / Ruddar Dance
June 19 at 9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. ET
Platform: Instagram Live and YouTube Live
Celebrate the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth with a digital day of dance. Tribute performances will be presented on Instagram starting at 12 p.m. ET, featuring Tamar-kali; Isio-Maya Nuwere of Harlem School of the Arts; Theresa Lavington Youth Group; Black Iris Project; Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, A Dance Company; Jason Samuels Smith with Dormeshia and Derick Grant; and RudduR Dance. The day will culminate in a performance on YouTube at 7 p.m. ET, featuring a panel discussion, "Reflecting the Times," led by Hope Boykin of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, followed by a tribute performance of “HANGING TREE,” featuring Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet Dance Theatre, vocalist Marcelle Davies-Lashley, and poet Carl Hancock Rux.

Juneteenth Presentation by coLAB and The Old Globe
June 19 at 12 p.m. PT
Platform: Online Stream - Facebook Live
"The Old Globe, in collaboration with the George L. Stevens Senior Resource Center, presents our fourth annual Juneteenth performance presentation as part of the Center’s Juneteenth festival. We are hosting this event on our digital platforms in honor of the day and as a benefit for the Center. This event will include: video excerpts from past coLAB Juneteenth performance presentations such as The Ruby in Us and Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley: From Slavery to Modiste; a reading of the new play Ode to My Mothers by Joy Yvonne Jones, directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg; music; spoken word; crafts; at-home activities; an educational presentation that shares the story and history of the holiday; and much more."

Nnenna Ogwo & Sterling Strings: Annual Juneteenth Celebration
Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater
June 19 at 4 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. ET
Platform: Online Stream - free admission
“In the 5th year of her annual Juneteenth celebration at Joe’s Pub, pianist Nnenna Ogwo returns with her ever brilliant collaborators, Sterling Strings. The pandemic may have forced us to celebrate digitally, but it will still be a party. In a year of unprecedented challenges to our world and our psyche, now, more than ever we need to make a joyful noise, revel in the creativity of those magnificent musicians of the past and the inheritors of their indomitable spirit. Come celebrate the liberation of Black bodies and minds, and honor their creative musical energy by sharing a night of Black music played by Black musicians. Closures and cancellations because of COVID-19 have majorly disrupted access to revenue for artists all over the world. If you enjoy this performance and are able, please consider supporting the artists directly at”

The Antonyo Awards to Celebrate Black theatre on Juneteenth, featuring Audra McDonald, Tituss Burgess & more
June 19 at 4 p.m. PT /  7 p.m. ET
Platform: Broadway Black’s YouTube and Facebook pages
“Broadway Black, the multimedia organization highlighting the achievements of Black theatre artists, is pleased to announce the inaugural Antonyo Awards, a celebration of the Black Broadway and Off-Broadway community. The streamed ceremony will include a pre-show virtual red carpet, original musical numbers, star presenters and performers, and more.”

Black Women and the Ballot: 3 Short Radio Dramas
by Judy Tate and Saviana Stanescu
Featuring Phylicia Rashad
June 19 at 4:30 p.m. PT / 7:30 p.m. ET
Platform: YouTube Live
“American Slavery Project is partnering with 11 theaters for a special presentation of Black Women and the Ballot, three short radio plays that will be available nation-wide and virtually for the first time on Juneteenth. Black Women and the Ballot examines the relationship between America and Black women voting in this 100th anniversary year of Women’s Suffrage. Specifically, it sheds light on African-American women’s contribution to suffrage over multiple decades and the undocumented and disenfranchised Black immigrant women overlooked today and highlights American Slavery Project’s platform Voter Outreach Thru Theatre Engagement (V.O.T.E.).The event will end with the actors sharing what voting means to them, followed by a live talkback hosted by American Slavery Project on their YouTube Channel.”

Juneteenth and Black Music Month Celebration Dance Party

Dance Theatre of Harlem
June 19 at 5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET
Platform: Zoom (link sent day-of event)
To RSVP, click here. Please RSVP by Friday, June 19 at 6:30 p.m. 
“Join in the celebration with DTH company artists on Zoom hosted by Company Artist Stephanie Rae Williams and playlist by Company Artist Alexandra Hutchinson. Dress to impress! RSVP Required. Attendees will receive an email with a Zoom invitation no later than 7 p.m.”

Juneteenth 2020: A Day of Remembrance
Sweet Honey in the Rock
June 19 at 5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET
Platform: Online Stream - free to watch on YouTube or Facebook; VIP ticket option available
“SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK® invites you to a virtual concert and conversation on Juneteenth, an interactive experience of spirit and song, where, in spite of COVID-19 and continued systemic racial oppression, we will stand together, even while apart, as a global community. Through song, poem, and discussion, reflect on our nation’s turbulent racial past and present, while uplifting the dignity and wellbeing of all people. The performance will stream live from the historic stage at The Lincoln Theater in Washington, DC. Special guests include Bryan Stevenson, Danny Glover, Gina Belafonte, Sonia Sanchez, Aloe Blacc, William Barber III, Kiki Shepard, Jenifer Lewis, Jordan Waré, and Sophia Dawson.”

By Kristiana Rae Colón, presented by Sideshow Theatre
June 19 at 5 p.m. PT
Platform: Online Stream
This event is a benefit for the #LetUsBreathe Collective in honor of Juneteenth and the Black Lives Matter movement. “Tilikum was a king, and the oceans of the world were his. Now, he is a captive in a marine amusement park, doomed to live as an opportunity for profit. Alone behind bars he forgets the feel of freedom, but when fellow prisoners ignite the fires of his memory, he starts down a path that threatens to consume everything. Ripped from the headlines, Kristiana Rae Colón's Tilikum explores captivity, violence and rebellion in a vital and visceral blend of theatre, drumming and dance. Poetic and lyrical, Tilikum calls out the power structures - both corporate and human - that ensure continued oppression, and the complicity of those willing to stand by and do nothing.”

Downtown Variety: Juneteenth
June 19 at 5 p.m. PT
Platform: Online Stream
“Over the past two and a half months, La MaMa and CultureHub have teamed up to create Downtown Variety, which uses emerging technologies to create a new venue for artistic expression and creative connections. In response to national protests, La MaMa and CultureHub will pass the mic to POETIC SOCIETIES’ residents Ava Ansari, Salakastar, Ian Fink, Ahya Simone, Jonah Mixon-Webster, Halima Cassells, Rafael Leafar, and Salar Ansari who will offer an ancestral healing tele-protest to extend the resilience of Detroit and Flint artists to the multiverse of the global Black movement.”

A Juneteenth Theatre Justice Project: Polar Bears, Black Boys & Prairie Fringed Orchids 
by Vincent Terrell Durham, directed by Peter J. Kuo
June 19 at 7 p.m. PT
Platform: Zoom - free admission, purchase tickets online (required)
Approximate running time: 75 minutes
Content Warning: Intended for mature audiences. Contains references to police violence.
Presented by a coalition of 33 Bay Area theaters
“A liberal white couple open the doors of their renovated Harlem brownstone to host a cocktail party for a Black Lives Matter activist, his gay white lover, a sistah named Shemeka, and the mother of a slain 12 year-old black boy. A night of cocktails and conversation spark emotional debates ranging from under-weight polar bears, Lana Turner, saving the planet, gentrification, racial identity, and protecting the lives of black boys.”