June 19, 2020 marks the 155th annual celebration of Juneteenth. The holiday marks the official end of slavery in Texas, which was the last of the former Confederate States of America to surrender to the Union Army. For many Black Americans, Juneteenth is the true independence day of our nation.
Though normally a day of celebrations, parades, and cookouts, 2020 will likely take on a different feel. As protests over the killings of unarmed Black citizens continue throughout the country, many states also remain under social distancing guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which is by no means behind us. Still there are many ways to celebrate or demonstrate this year. If you can't find a Juneteenth event near you, there are even some virtual celebrations planned for the day.
NYC Juneteenth events
All five boroughs will have at least one march on Juneteenth, with the biggest seeming to be a march on City Hall in Manhattan and another in Brooklyn from Grand Army Plaza to Fort Greene Park. NY1 has a full list of known JusticeForGeorgeNYC marches slated for the day.
Los Angeles Juneteenth events
The neighborhood of Leimert Park is the epicenter of Black arts and culture in L.A. and also the host of one of the biggest Juneteenth celebrations this year. The Leimert Park Rising: Juneteenth Festival starts with a caravan originating at The Forum in Inglewood, then continues on through View Park, Windsor Hills and the Crenshaw District, concluding in Leimert Park for a “Pray for the Hood” event.
Chicago Juneteenth events
Chicago has two major in-person events going on. The Million Man March's March For US 2020 will walk from Jones College Prep School to Daley Plaza from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. And the Chicago Peace And Equality Juneteenth Rally & Celebration starts at the South Loop Green Space at 6:00 p.m.
Houston, Texas Juneteenth events
An hour from Galveston, where Juneteenth was born, Houston typically holds some of the biggest Juneteenth celebrations. This year, the Emancipation Park Conservancy is hosting several virtual events to mark the day, and Black Lives Matter's Houston chapter is also holding a solidarity bike ride starting at Guadalupe Plaza.
Philadelphia Juneteenth events
The city of Philadelphia recently made Juneteenth a civic holiday, so there's extra reason to celebrate. Normally a street festival is put on by the Johnson House Historic Site, a key site of the Underground Railroad's operations. This year, they're hosting a virtual festival on Facebook and Zoom.
Phoenix, Ariz. Juneteenth events
A March With Our Ancestors will take place from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The route starts at Phoenix Civic Space Park and ends at the Arizona State Capitol. Masks are "strongly encouraged." In nearby Scottsdale, a Freedom Day celebration will take place from 2 p.m. to 8 pm. at El Dorado Park.
Dallas, Texas Juneteenth events
The Dallas MLK Jr. Community Center has organized a drive-thru celebration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. where families can receive nonperishable foods, hygiene kits, and household products. For the activist-minded, the Juneteenth Day of Action event put on by In Defense of Black Lives at City Hall begins at 1 p.m.
San Francisco Bay Area Juneteenth events
San Jose's Juneteenth in the Park Festival went virtual this year, and already took place on June 13, but you can rewatch some of the festivities on their YouTube channel. Protests to mark the day include events at Lake Merritt in Oakland, and at Mosswood Park, also in Oakland, there is an "Unapologetic Juneteenth" celebration. Virtual events include Drag Alive Juneeteenth Celebration, marking both Pride Month and Black freedom with a virtual party on Twitch.
Seattle Juneteenth events
Seattle has been one of the biggest cities in the news in terms of the protests surrounding the death of George Floyd, and the Emerald City plans to show out this Juneteenth. King County Equity Now Coalition is hosting a march starting at 2 p.m. from 22nd and Madison to Jimi Hendrix Park. And in the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP), formerly known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), there is an all-day Juneteenth Blackout. The event asks non-Black participants to quietly hold space for Black protestors as they participate in a day of healing and celebration.
Washington, D.C / DMV Juneteenth events
Events in D.C., and the surrounding areas in Maryland and Virginia, include Strike for Black Lives, which is calling for a general strike for the day and disruption to traffic and business as usual in D.C., and a Defend Black Lives meeting at the Silver Spring Civic Center. For a more comprehensive overview of events in the DMV, visit this link.