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 2021 marks the 156th anniversary of this day, which for many Black Americans has become a day of celebration filled with parades, performances, music, food, and more. Juneteenth became a U.S. federal holiday when it was officially signed into law on June 17, 2021.
Learn more about Juneteenth, and check out the following selection of events and celebrations taking place in Seattle and across the country, including meditations, music festival, classes, and more.
Follow South Seattle Emerald's Juneteenth 2021 in Seattle: A Guide to Local Events and The Stranger's Juneteenth 2021 Events in Seattle for a variety of virtual and in-person events.
Beginning June 19: PhotoWalkSeattle at Seattle Rep. "From June 19 through summer 2021, Seattle Rep hosts world-class photojournalism outdoors at Seattle Center in partnership with PhotoWalkSeattle, honoring Juneteenth and civil rights activism. PhotoWalkSeattle is open for viewing from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week, free to the public. The installation is located outdoors near Seattle Rep's entrance at Mercer St. & 2nd Ave N."
June 13–20: Juneteenth Week 2021 - film screenings, youth events, performances, and more presented by Northwest African American Museum (NAAM). See the full line-up of in-person and virtual events below.
- June 17 at 8 p.m. PT: Juneteenth Week: Youth Night. "To celebrate 2021 graduates, NAAM will host Drive-In Black Graduation as part of Juneteenth Week 2021 Youth Night. This event will celebrate graduates from pre-K through college."
- June 18 at 7 p.m. PT: Juneteenth Week: 2021 Artist Collective. "The Diversity, Equality, and Inclusivity Committee of the Space Needle & Chihuly Garden and Glass, alongside the Northwest African American Museum, One Vibe Africa, and Wa Na Wari, are celebrating Juneteenth by raising the voices of Black and African American artists in an Artist Collective broadcast premiering virtually on June 18."
- June 19 at 12 p.m. PT: Juneteenth Week: Jamboree. "This in-person celebration at Judkins Park will feature family fun, recreation, and activities from local professional sports teams. Hosted by NAAM and the City of Seattle Parks & Rec."
- June 21 at 1:30 p.m. PT: Juneteenth Week: NAAM's Juneteenth Encore + Black Music Month Monday Program. "Tune in to this encore presentation of NAAM's Juneteenth celebrations as well as a discussion with author Paul Porter (BlackOut) about the real nature and motivations behind the music that gets played on the radio. Presented in sponsorship with Wa Na Wari and Elliott Bay Books."
June 17-19, times vary: We Out Here. "This festival honors and celebrates Black excellence, while sharing resources in the Seattle area. Shining a light on artists, elders, activists, community members, and organizations representing a number of fields who are working to address complex issues in creative ways, We Out Here will feature consultations, talks, presentations, and workshops throughout the day and live performances from June 17-19, 2021."
MARCH & CELEBRATION
June 19 & 20 at 12 p.m. PT: King County Equity Now #Juneteenth 21 Freedom March & People's Assembly. "The second annual Freedom March and People’s Assembly starts on 23rd Avenue East & East Madison Street at 12 p.m. and will be led by Black 2021 graduates, an all-Black drumline, and a Black elder caravan. This in-person event will also feature live performances by Sevyn Streeter, Gifted Gab, food by Communion, and many more Black vendors. This event is free to attend."
June 18–19: King County Library System is hosting a variety of classes in honor of Juneteenth. Check out their full line-up of virtual events below.
- June 17 at 7 p.m. PT: Juneteenth: Introduction to African American Genealogy. "Are you looking for information about your African American ancestors? Many researchers struggle to break through the wall of slavery and legalized segregation. This presentation looks at unique resources along with standard censuses, probate and vital records to identify emancipated slaves and their prior slave-owners."
- June 18 at 12 p.m. PT: Create a Juneteenth Picnic. "Chef Matt Lewis, owner of Where ya at, Matt?, will show how to make some of his favorite picnic items. Growing up in New Orleans, Matt will also share stories and the importance of Juneteenth.
- June 19 at 10 a.m. PT: Juneteenth: Journeys of Remembrance Celebration. "Experience Juneteenth through the lens of local artists and creatives. Learn the history, traditions, and story of the African American journey from slavery to emancipation and beyond. Contributing artists include Courtney Clark, Kiana Davis, Abigail Ferrigno (We.APP Youth Scholar), Damien Geter, Black Stax, and Joe Williams."
- June 19 at 1:30 p.m. PT: Silver Kite Arts: Celebrating Juneteenth with Poetry. "Learn to define poetry as a healing passage of oneself from the inside to the outside. Explore what it means to use the feelings inside of us and put them to paper using poetry."
June 19 at 12 p.m. PT: PCC's Juneteenth Celebration with Donna Moodie. "Join Donna Moodie, owner of Seattle restaurant Marjorie, for a special Juneteenth-themed class with 100% of the proceeds benefitting Black-led Byrd Barr Place [Seattle Rep's Public Works partner] and M.U.S.T. (Mentoring Urban Students & Teens). On this important day, Donna will cook the dishes that she grew up with, including Jamaican Jerk Chicken (tofu option available) and Mashed Yams. She’ll also speak about the significance of having red on the table for Juneteenth as she shares her recipe for a ruby-hued Hibiscus Cooler." Cost is $35 and registration is required.
June 19 at 2 p.m. PT: 1619: Resistance/Resilience/Remembrance. "Celebrate Juneteenth with a special storytelling-hour featuring Mr. Delbert Richardson. During this hour, Mr. Richardson will highlight the resistance of his ancestors during the periods of American chattel slavery and Jim Crow, as well as focus on the resilience of Black brilliance. This online program draws from sections of the national award-winning American History Traveling Museum: The Unspoken Truths, which will be on display at MOHAI from June 18 through June 21, 2021. Co-presented by MOHAI and the Black Heritage Society of Washington State." Registration is free.
June 19 at 11 a.m. PT: City Proclamations On Juneteenth. "Tune in virtually to hear local city Mayors from Edmonds, Marysville, Monroe, and Mukilteo read and share proclamations establishing Juneteenth as a celebrated holiday."
June 19 at 5 p.m. PT: South Hudson Music Project's Juneteenth Staycation Festival. "Two great bands with deep roots in Seattle, streaming from two different cities, on one night. Tune in from 5-6:30 p.m. PT to hear the Dawn Clement trio live from Denver, and then at 7:30 p.m. PT hear the Ryan Burns Trio live from Seattle." This virtual event is free, but registration is required.
June 19 at 10 a.m. PT: "No Healing, No Peace!" A Walking Meditation for Black Liberation. "Join Nile’s Edge Healing Arts for a guided walking meditation in Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Memorial Park. This meditation is to provide participants a moment of reflection, grounding, and spiritual awareness around Juneteenth and the resilience of Black people in America. This in-person event will feature an African centered libation ceremony by Orisade Awodola, healing music and a guided meditation by Aishé Keita [2018's Familiar], and a live soundscape by vocalist Porscha Shaw [2019's Shout Sister Shout!; 2018's Nina Simone: Four Women]." This event is free to attend.
June 19 at 2:30 p.m. PT: 2021 Juneteenth Blackout Healing. "Blackout Healing is back to celebrate Juneteenth with a kick back and healing ritual. There will be art, an opportunity to put your hands in the dirt and explore the farm, or just come with a blanket to sit and sit and connect. Anyone who identifies as Black, living a Black experience is welcome. RSVP to Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like dinner and to attend deep roots."
June 19 at 1 p.m. PT: Juneteenth Vaccine Pop-up #1. "In celebration of Juneteenth, ULMS (Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle) is hosting a free vaccine clinic that is open to all individuals 12 years of age and older. If you haven’t received your COVID-19 vaccination yet, you can take advantage of this opportunity to do so. This pop-up is for those who have yet to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Registration is required. "
Streaming: ELEVATE (v.) Raise or Lift to a Higher Power. "ELEVATE is a showcase of Black and Brown voices uplifting one another through the art of spoken word. This project shares untold and unseen work centered around local and national historical events, the impact of systemic racism, and individuals challenging racist ideologies. Though this Seattle Theater Group virtual event premiered on June 16, the event is still available to stream for free on their website."
June 19 at 5:30 p.m. PT: Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Juneteenth Celebration. "Join OSF for an evening of performances and presentations from artists including Artistic Director Nataki Garrett, Tatiana Wechsler, Cedric Lamar, Daniela Cobb, and a special offering by E. Faye Butler [2012's Pullman Porter Blues] and Felton Offard, who will perform a song from Oregon Shakespeare's Festival upcoming production, Fannie [a Seattle Rep co-commission; part of Seattle Rep's 2021 Plays in Process series]. During this event audiences will be invited to donate directly to two incredible institutions, Southern Oregon Black Leaders, Activists, and Community Coalition (SOBLACC) and The NAACP Legal Defense Fund." This virtual event is free to attend and will be available to stream on YouTube and Facebook.
June 18-20, times vary: The National Juneteenth Virtual Music Festival. "This incredible weekend of music will feature Zydeco, Blues, and Jazz. Hosted in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, this weekend-long festival will be streamed for free across the world." Registration is free.
June 19 at 3 p.m. PT: Juneteenth Joy Virtual Celebration. "Join the Los Angeles Public Library’s Teen’Scape department, Black Being, and DJ pastelShade for a virtual celebration. This event will invite movement through dancing, ancestor remembrance through ritual, and an opportunity to collectively celebrate Black liberation and resilience." This event is free to attend, but registration is required.
June 18-20, times vary: Juneteenth NY Summit. "This three-day online and in-person summit celebrates community through empowerment, health and wellness, education, and entertainment." This event is free to attend, but registration is required.