Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Cel-Libertation Day, celebrates the Emancipation Proclamation of 1865. It is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end to slavery in the United States. Now a State and Federal Holiday, here are a few ways to celebrate Juneteenth 2023.
The Juneteenth Family Fun Day Festival gathers 20,000+ attendees local to the NYC community to enjoy a vibrant day of rich culture through music, dance, poetry, skits, history, vendors, and family activities for single-family homes, married with children, and extended family.
Celebrate Juneteenth at MCNY with a live performance by songwriter, musician, and epic storyteller, Queen Esther. Described by Vanity Fair as “…a brutal, original, explosive singer…” and Feedback as “…the unknown queen of Americana.”
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture will host its 5th Annual Literary Festival on Saturday, June 17th. Traditionally held on Juneteenth weekend, the Schomburg Center Literary Festival is held both outdoors and throughout the historic research library in Harlem, featuring discussions, workshops, and book signings with established and emerging writers across the Black Diaspora.
On June 19, 1865, enslaved people in Texas were informed by a Union general that they were emancipated—over 2 years after Lincoln issued the emancipation proclamation. Ever since, this day has been celebrated in communities across the United States as a commemoration of the end of slavery. Declared a federal holiday in 2021, Juneteenth is a celebration of the progress we’ve made in the fight for freedom (and a reminder of how far we still have to go).
If it’s Saturday, and the weather permits, The Harlem Drummers will be in the Harlem Drum Circle in Marcus Garvey Park, on the Madison Avenue side of the Park between 123rd and 124th Streets.
Juneteenth: Legendary Instagramettes on June 17 ~ Six decades of music, sixty-five years of song, generations tied together through the force of will of a matriarchy of powerful women. This is the story of African-American gospel quintet The Legendary Ingramettes, founded by Maggie Ingram (who passed away in 2015) as a way to keep her family together through hardship, and taken up by her daughter Almeta Ingram-Miller as a way to continue Maggie’s legacy. Inspired by the black gospel male quartets of the 1940s and 50s, The Legendary Ingramettes bring roof-raising harmonies and explosively powerful vocals, all driven by the voices of women. Based for many years out of Richmond, Virginia, they were led by the indomitable will of the woman they all called “Mama,” but now that Mama is gone, ‘Take A Look In The Book’ is the group’s first efforts with Almeta at the head.
and Juneteenth: Earth, Wind & Fire Tribute on June 18 ~ Ten highly talented vocalists and musicians harmoniously join forces to present A TRIBUTE TO EARTH, WIND AND FIRE, a celebration of the four decade-strong success, popularity and resilience of one of the most successful musical stories ever told.
The Central Park Conservancy launched its first major interpretive signage initiative in Central Park to commemorate Seneca Village, a predominantly African American community that existed before the City of New York created Central Park. Seneca Village provides a compelling setting to explore the widespread and longstanding connections Black New Yorkers have with wellness and nature. This Juneteenth, we invite you to celebrate these traditions with us in Seneca Village’s landscape as we tap into the longstanding power of Black wellness practices to rejuvenate our mind, body, and spirit. Tour on Saturday, June 18th 10am to 2m – this is a Free event.
Marcus Garvey Park, which is adjacent to both Harlem and East Harlem, was the lucky recipient of a Mellon Foundation Humanities in Place Initiative, with a focus on fostering creativity and care in essential public space.
Administered through Harlem Grown, The Culture, Creativity & Care Initiative will be a two-year project, amplifying Harlem’s rich history and culture, along with its plethora of talented residents, from visual and performing arts to culture and food Programming, unveiling on June 18, 2023 with a ribbon cutting ceremony and artist talks from 2-5pm.
Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth is a free outdoor concert event centered around Black artistry and community. Created by and featuring Black performers and allies, the concert includes a variety of Broadway performers showcasing their talent and uniqueness with works of art. Included in the festivities is the presentation of the annual Legacy Award, given to esteemed Black artists for their incredible community involvement and astounding achievements on Broadway.
This event is part of a free event series curated by Carl Hancock Rux in commemoration of Juneteenth, in collaboration with Harlem Stage and Park Avenue Armory. On June 16, Rux in conversation with Charles M. Blow leads an in-depth discussion on some of the myths of the Emancipation Proclamation and the truth of modern-day slavery, held at Harlem Stage. On June 19, Park Avenue Armory presents a newly commissioned art installation drawn from his play Talk.
Juneteenth LP (Juneteenth Legacy Project) is a musical collaborative of Black classically trained musicians who are continually pushing boundaries by bringing together unexpected classical music by Black classical composers and brilliantly crafted pop arrangements for a refreshing take on the live music experience. The Juneteenth Annual Celebration event at Joe’s Pub was born not only out of the desire to celebrate Freedom Day, but also to introduce audiences to the often under-represented repertoire of the Black Diaspora.
The Juneteenth Grove is dedicated in solidarity with the Black community to the fight to end systemic racism.
Gio Swaby originally drew from the concept of Double Consciousness originally coined by W.E.B. Debois in his 1903 work, The Souls of Black Folkwhere he described how Black people are taught to see themselves through the eyes of a racist and unloving society. Swaby’s work is a marked counterpoint to this: intentionally serving as a love letter to Black and Brown women, often her friends, through a gaze that is loving and aims to see the whole person in their imperfections, personal style, strength and eccentricities as a counterpoint to the often-politicized depictions of Black bodies. The exhibition is on view to July 29th at Claire Oliver Gallery, 2288 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Harlem.
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) created an interactive story map to celebrate New York City’s African American history through its designated places. Entitled Preserving Significant Places of Black History, it celebrates New York City’s African American history through designated landmarks and historic districts. For five decades LPC has been recognizing, supporting, and celebrating places of African American cultural and historic significance through designation. This story map highlights landmarks and historic districts that illustrate the experiences and achievements of African Americans through interactive maps, narrative text, images, and multimedia content.
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) announced the launch of Seneca Village Unearthed, an online exhibit and collection of artifacts from what was once New York City’s largest community of free African-American landowners. Seneca Village was located in what is now Central Park, a scenic landmark. Through this online exhibit and collection, the general public will for the first time have access to nearly 300 artifacts and get a glimpse of what life was like for Seneca villagers in the mid-19th century.
African Burial Ground (managed by the National Park Service) is the oldest and largest known excavated burial ground in North America for both free and enslaved Africans. It protects the historic role slavery played in building New York. The Visitors Center is located at 290 Broadway; The outside memorial is located at the intersection of African Burial Ground Way (formerly Elk Street) and Duane Street.
In the summer of 2017, the Harlem African Burial Ground Task Force unveiled ten presentation boards in the lobby of the State Office Building on West 125th Street. The boards told an incredible story of a burial ground located on East 126th Street, under the current bus depot, with history dating back to the 1660s ~ and exhumations continuing to this day.
Visit New Amsterdam Musical Association (NAMA), the Oldest Union for Black Musicians in the United States, in Harlem
Founded in 1904, NAMA is the oldest African-American Musical organization in the United States. It was founded at the time that the American Federation of Musicians Local 310 didn’t admit minority musicians. Follow on Facebook.
Harlem-based tour company Welcome To Harlem originated in 2004 with tour guides who are born and raised in the neighborhood. Tours range from walking tours through historic neighborhoods to jamming jazz and gospel.
The Green Book, a guidebook for black Americans, was published by New York postal worker Victor Hugo Green from 1936 to 1966, during the Jim Crow era in America as a way for working-class African-Americans to pursue the American Dream of travel before and during the Civil Rights Movement. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture houses the full digital collection of Green Books and other similar guides. They are available free online.