Showcasing the Arts at Juneteenth Celebrations

June 12, 2022—It’s time again to celebrate our nation’s true Independence Day—Juneteenth. June 19, 1865, was the date the enslaved people, who resided in Galveston, Texas, were the last to be officially freed more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

While we all know the fight for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Access continues today, I believe it is important that we commemorate Juneteenth in acknowledgement of the spirit of perseverance it personifies, as well as our nation’s collective history.

Juneteenth also affords us the opportunity to showcase how the arts and culture can be utilized to illuminate the values of racial equality and social justice, now and for the future. In addition, music, dance, theater, as well as the visual arts, are invaluable platforms for educating people about and sharing the significance of Juneteenth.

In honor of the second year of national celebrations, I am posting a list of Juneteenth events that span the country’s urban centers. It includes both virtual and in-person activities:

  • Attend NJPAC’S PSEG True Diversity Film Series on Monday, June 13, 2022, as it marks Juneteenth with a virtual panel discussion about Developing Black Wealth. The audience is encouraged to watch in advance the film, America’s Black Upper Class, which focuses on the wealth that has been accumulated within the Black community. Register here to receive access to the film and the Zoom link for the panel discussion, which begins at 7 p.m. (ET)
  • The Black Employee Network of the Atlantic Council is marking Juneteenth with a free virtual panel discussion at 10 a.m. (ET) June 17, 2022, featuring Black leaders from both sides of the Atlantic. You can find details and registration at this link.
  • The Healing of Nations Foundation, in association with Carnegie Hall, presents “All-American Freedom Day: Reimagining Togetherness” on June 19, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. (ET). RSVP at this link for free tickets. The event will present the Spirit Alive Award to poet Sonia Sanchez and Opal Lee, the grandmother of Juneteenth.
  • Planning to travel to the birthplace of Juneteenth? Find out Galveston’s plans for celebration at this link.
  • Washington, D.C. will celebrate Juneteenth with four days of festivities! Learn more here.
  • Pennsylvania is one of only nine states that recognizes Juneteenth as a state holiday. Check out the plans for festivities in Philadelphia at this link.
  • For those of you in the Chicago-area, information about Juneteenth celebrations can be found at this link.
  • Arts & Culture Connections readers in Los Angeles can find local Juneteenth celebration information here.
  • And if you’re in Atlanta, don’t miss the parade and the festivals mentioned in this link.
  • Detroit marks Juneteenth with a week of family festivities. For more information, click here.
  • And speaking of families, the Oakland, California-based organization, Outdoor Afro, is holding its second annual Juneteenth event. The theme is “Reflecting on Freedom with Outdoor Afro.” Register here to participate in this nationwide weekend of recommended activities to celebrate everyone’s inherent connection to nature.
  • Spend Juneteenth with your family and friends watching documentaries about the African-American experience and cultural legacy. Then celebrate with healthy versions of traditional foods. And don’t forget us vegans!
  • Read the book, On Juneteenth, by the Pulitzer-Prize winning historian, Annette Gordon Reed, who grew up in East Texas, and unpacks the history of the holiday. One key point she makes: Juneteenth celebrates a people’s enduring spirit rather than General Granger’s decree.
  • I also urge you to learn more about the meaning of the Juneteenth flag, which I chose to illustrate this post. You can read all about the significance of the symbols and colors at this link.

In closing, because of cultural and emotional significance of Juneteenth, June 19th also can serve as mid-year reset point—an opportunity to reflect, refresh, regroup and prepare to tackle the rest of the challenges and opportunities 2022 has in store for each of us.

As always, I invite you to share your thoughts and comments below. What does Juneteenth mean to you and how will you commemorate or celebrate it this year?

Leave a Reply