The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by then-President Lincoln on January 1, 1863. But it would be more than two full years later for all enslaved people to be ensured their freedom. Juneteenth, short for June Nineteenth, marks the day when federal troops entered Galveston, Texas, and notified the remaining enslaved people that they were now free.
To commemorate this day, families and communities, especially in Texas, have honored Juneteenth with parades, gatherings, and festivals. In 2019, Governor Tom Wolf made Juneteenth a state holiday and on June 17, 2021, Juneteenth officially became a federal holiday.
This year, there are plenty of ways to honor Juneteenth through community gatherings, history talks, parades, and more throughout the city.
Here’s how to celebrate Juneteenth in Philly.
(Art / community) Check out Juneteenth 3000, a new exhibit by Cherry Street Pier’s artist-in-residence Thomcat23 that explores what life would be like for Black Americans 1,135 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. The exhibit will be on display through June 30. (June 3-30, 101 S. Columbus Blvd.,, cherrystreetpier.com)
(Community / kid-friendly / free / outdoors) Look up as the city shines in honor of Juneteenth. Iconic landmarks like Boathouse Row, the Ben Franklin Bridge, Citizens Bank Park and more will light up in red and green in celebration of the day . Take a tour of all of the stops throughout the week to catch the shining skyline. (Free, June 13-19, various locations, facebook.com)
(Community / free) Second District Brewing serves up history with a side of craft beer. Come learn about the history of Juneteenth through interactive activities, games, and more. The event kicks off with a history talk by Black History Maven. Beer and light bites will be available for purchase. (Free, June 16, 6-7: 30 pm 1939 S. Bancroft St.,, eventbrite.com)
(Music / kid-friendly) Longwood Gardens’ incredible illuminated fountain performances are a sight (and sound) you won’t want to miss. In honor of Juneteenth, this performance features songs in the themes of freedom, hope, and strength with music by artists like Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, and Nina Simone. ($ 2- $ 25, June 17-18, 1001 Longwood Rd., Kennett Square,, longwoodgardens.org)
(Movies / community) Pack your favorite movie snacks and take in a film under the stars. In honor of Juneteenth, the feature film will be Glory, an American war drama about an African-American Civil War Regimen. This movie is rated R and is intended for more mature audiences. ($ 10- $ 20, June 17, 8-10 pm, 2400 Strawberry Mansion Dr.,, thelaurelhillcemetery.org)
(Art / community / free) Come meet and learn from historian and artist Michelle Browder. Browder’s work centers around exposing the rich and often haunting elements of history in an engaging way. During the program, Browder will share how she explores historical narratives. You can choose to join this free event in-person or through online streaming. (Free, June 17, 6 pm, 1314 Locust St.,, support.librarycompany.org)
(Community / kid-friendly) This day-long block party is a free Juneteenth celebration for all community members. Free food, water ice, and activities for kids will be available while supplies last. (Free, June 18, 10 am-5 pm, 19th & W. Tioga St.,, cityathleticsphilly.com)
(Community / outdoors) This Pride-Juneteenth celebration was designed with Black LGBTQ families in mind. Head to Germantown Ave. for an afternoon of free food, music, vendors, history talks, and more. (Free, June 18, 11 am-2 pm, 6945 Germantown Ave.,, philadelphiafamilypride.org)
(Community / kid-friendly) Johnson House, a National Historic Landmark and a stop on the Underground Railroad, hosts its 16th-annual Juneteenth Festival on June 18. Bring the entire family for a full day of music, games, panel discussions, historic re-enactments, and more. (Free, June 18, noon-6 pm, 6306 Germantown Ave.,, johnsonhouse.org)
(Art / community) Artist Zsudayka Nzinga leads you through her art installation “Afro Bohemian”, which brings together symbols and icons of Black history and culture. After, check out a special comic book workout dedicated to celebrating real-life Black superheroes. Before You go, Philly’s Positive Movement Drumline holds a special performance. This event is free with National Liberty Museum admission. ($ 6- $ 12, June 18, 1-5 pm, 321 Chestnut St.,, libertymuseum.org)
(Music / community / kid-friendly) Join the Woodmere Art Museum for a day of jazz and poetry with performances by the Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble, Universal Drum and Dance Ensemble, poets and more. (Free, June 18, 2-5 pm, 9201 Germantown Ave.,, woodmereartmuseum.org)
(Community / music / art / kid-friendly) Celebrate Juneteenth in West Philadelphia with performances, food, a children’s village, and more. Local organizations and groups will march along the parade route which starts at 52nd and Parkside. Then, at the festival in Malcolm X Park, you’ll have the chance to play games, shop local vendors, see art exhibits and more. (Free, June 19, 10 am, N. 52nd St. & Parkside Ave.,, juneteenthphilly.org)
(Community / music / art / kid-friendly) This block party is jam-packed with live performances from artists like Talib Kweli, in addition to food, games, and more. You’ll also get the chance to shop items from local makers at the Village Marketplace. Register online in advance to get free museum admission, too. (Free, June 19, 11 am-4 pm, 701 Arch St.,, tockify.com)
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