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Here’s how you can celebrate Juneteenth across New York City

Juneteenth
Harlem residents enjoyed the open air in Saint Nicholas Park on June 18 in preparation for the first Juneteenth as a national holiday.
Photo by Mark Hallum

June 19 marks the United States holiday Juneteenth which celebrates the day enslaved African Americans in Texas were finally informed of their freedom under the Emancipation Proclamation. 

Also known as Freedom Day or Jubilee Day, the holiday honors and remembers the lives of enslaved people in this country and also celebrates Black American culture and heritage. This year you can celebrate Juneteenth by attending some of these New York City-based events.

Juneteenth Jubilees

On Friday, June 17 at 4 PM, Greenwich House will host a “Juneteenth Jubilee” ahead of Juneteenth Independence Day. The free outdoor celebration for New Yorkers of all ages, hosted in partnership with The Soapbox Presents, Ars Nova, Little Mozart Foundation, and The Door, will honor Black American culture. The event is being organized by Greenwich House Music School, and is produced and curated by Alphonso Horne and Marija Abney. The family-friendly interactive performances will exhibit the cultural contributions of Black Americans with music, dance, puppetry, drag and ball, spoken word, double dutch, and storytelling.

The Manhattan Opera Repertory Ensemble (MORE Opera), a New York City-based nonprofit focused on providing vocal arts education and culturally responsive musical programming to underserved communities, will present a free outdoor concert in celebration of Juneteenth. The “Juneteenth Jubilee” will take place Saturday, June 18 at 1 p.m. at the James Baldwin Outdoor Learning Center 

Juneteenth Film Screenings

A screening of LGBTQ+ short films in partnership with the Bronx Film Collective and Stonewall CDC will kick off Bronx Pride on Tuesday, featuring a Q&A with the filmmakers and free food. The Bronx Borough President Annual Pride Event with Vanessa Gibson, the Bronx LGBTQ Expo and a pre-Juneteenth intergenerational cookout with the organization SAGE-Bronx, complete with games, prizes and nature tours of Crotona Park, will follow later in the week. All events are free of charge and only the movie screening requires tickets (available at tbxf.org). 

SummerStage will again offer a free outdoor screening of the Oscar and Grammy award-winning documentary Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) for its second year on June 17, commemorating Juneteenth. The film, which also opens the season of shows in neighborhood parks citywide, will be shown in Marcus Garvey Park, where The Harlem Cultural Festival was originally situated more than 50 years ago. 

Music Theater Visual Arts 

Presented in collaboration with events at Harlem Stage (June 16), and Park Avenue Armory (June 19) and curated and directed by Carl Hancock Rux, I Dream a Dream that Dreams Back at Me: A Juneteenth Celebration is a musical commemoration of the 156th anniversary of Juneteenth, unfolding across Lincoln Center. Featuring vocalists Nona Hendryx with Étienne Lashley and The Collective, alongside original songs by Vernon Reid and Hendryx with lyrics by Lynn Nottage and costumes by Dianne Smith, a deconstructed performance of the national anthem by actress Patrice Johnson Chevannes and a concert by Grammy winner, Cedric Burnside, concluded by a Silent Disco Dance Party from DJ Belinda Becker.

Markets and festivals

The Juneteenth Night Market, part of the 2022 season of the Sovereign Farmers Market, will be held on Sunday 6/19 from 5-10 pm. This event will feature live drumming, fashion, a glow dance party, food trucks, farm-fresh produce, handmade crafts, a kid’s corner with games, and activities for everyone to enjoy.

The Black Entrepreneur’s Second Annual Juneteenth Pop-Up Shop is set to occur in Central Harlem from 2-7 pm on June 18. Here you can support and celebrate Black entrepreneurs as they showcase their brands: jewelry, apparel, skin and hair care, health and wellness, and more. 

The Weeksville Heritage Center is hosting their first annual Juneteenth Food Festival on June 18 and 19. The Weeksville Heritage Center x Jummy’s Picks by Black-Owned Brooklyn Juneteenth Food Festival will feature 21 top-tier Black food vendors with cuisine representing nations across the African Diaspora. The event will also offer a small marketplace of goods that express Black pride and culture. Alongside eating and shopping, attendees will experience family-friendly cultural performances, cooking demonstrations and DJ sets curated by the Brooklyn-based collectives Papi Juice and Soul Summit.

Juneteenth in Seneca Village offers an opportunity to not only consider the origins and meaning of this day, but to reflect on Seneca Village, a predominately African-American community that existed before New York City created Central Park and long before we celebrated Juneteenth. Discover the history of this community and see performances by award-winning artists throughout the Park’s Seneca Village landscape that honor the voices and cultures that once resided here.

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