Celebrate Juneteenth Virtually and around Coastal Virginia
Juneteenth, also recognized as Freedom Day, honors the date that the last group of enslaved African Americans were freed in Galveston, Texas in 1865—more than two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation Order, which took effect on Jan. 1, 1863.
On Tuesday, June 16, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced that he’s making Juneteenth an official state holiday.
“It’s time we elevate this,” Northam said in his press conference. “Not just a celebration by and for some Virginians but one acknowledged and celebrated by all of us.”
Whether you’ve been celebrating for decades, or if this is your first time, here are some of the Juneteenth events that are happening in-person and online. Unless otherwise noted, all events take place on Friday, June 19.
Juneteenth Kickback & Celebration
Celebrate Juneteenth at Chesapeake City Park from 11–3 p.m. This free event will feature entertainment, arts and crafts, guest speakers and more. The pavilion space will be limited to 50 people, per Virginia’s Phase II guidelines.
Black Lives Mater 757 is celebrating with a free, family-friendly event at Oozlefinch Beers & Blending, from 3–7 p.m. The outdoor event encourages attendees to bring “drums, trumpets, signs and positive vibes.”
A Freedom Day Celebration
The Contemporary Arts Network will host a day of artistic expression and catharsis, from 4–8 p.m. The outdoor event features music, spoken word performances, mural tours, vendors and a meditation walk at 7 p.m.
Juneteenth Walk for Justice
On Saturday, June 20, Peninsula Community leaders will host the Juneteenth Walk for Justice. The walk begins at Newport News police headquarters at 10 a.m.
CommUNITY Rally for Social Justice & Education Reform
The Dirty Buffalo will host a rally at Town Point Park at 11 a.m., in partnership with Park Place Elementary School and Humanities Behind Bars. Pastor Mike Harris and The Dirty Buffalo owner, Russell Gilbert, will address the crowd. Following the rally, attendees are invited to The Dirty Buffalo’s Colley Avenue location to share a meal.
Join local poet and historian, Nathan Richardson, to remember and learn about Juneteenth. The Suffolk Public Library will premiere a Juneteenth Celebration video on Facebook and YouTube at 6 p.m.
Colonial Williamsburg Celebrates Juneteenth
Colonial Williamsburg celebrates Juneteenth by sharing the untold stories of African Americans in 18th-century Virginia, while reflecting on the “freedoms denied in previous centuries” through online blog posts by historical interpreters.
History of Juneteenth Documentary Watch Party
YWCA South Hampton Roads will have an online viewing of the documentary, History of Juneteenth, presented by Dr. Shennette Garrett-Scott of the Allen Public Library. Following the documentary, YWCA’s Ericka Smith will lead a discussion.
Williamsburg Action Committee will host a virtual Juneteenth Celebration from 6–9 p.m. A day of education and celebration, the free event will feature guest speaker, Jane Elliott, who is a world-renowned teacher, lecturer and diversity trainer best known for her “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” anti-racism exercise.
Join Virginia Humanities and the Virginia African American Cultural Resources (VAACR) Task Force for an online Juneteenth conversation on the state of black historic preservation in Virginia. From noon–1 p.m., hear from the panel, including Dr. Colita Nichols Fairfax, professor at Norfolk State and president of the Barrett-Peake Heritage Foundation in Hampton. The virtual talk is free and open to the public, but registration is required.