This coming Sunday is Juneteenth (June 19), which marks the day in 1865 when a group of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas finally learned that they were free from slavery, two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Now a federal holiday, Juneteenth is believed to be the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the U.S.
A full weekend of events are in store throughout the city to remember the emancipation of those who had been enslaved while honoring the contributions and achievements of Black Americans. From artistic to educational, here are 10 Juneteenth celebrations in the Magic City that you can take part in this year!
Kick off the Juneteenth weekend with a mix of history and art: There will be a mural unveiling and celebration of the Historic Overtown law office of L.E. Thomas, presented by Hampton Art Lovers and the Miami Museum of Contemporary Art of the African Diaspora. Judge Lawson E. Thomas, a prominent civil rights activist, was the first Black judge in the South since the Reconstruction era. He took the bench after being appointed by the Miami City Commission in 1950. Designated a historic site, his law office still stands in the historic Black neighborhood and bears the original signage of his name. There will be food, spirits provided by Black-owned whiskey brand Duke & Dame Whiskey, and live music by the Deep Fried Funk band.
Where: Historic Ward Rooming House, 249 NW 9th Street
When: Friday, June 17 at 5:30 p.m.
Head on over and join the City of Miami Beach in celebrating the achievements of the African American community at this third-annual free concert. It’ll feature performances by acclaimed jazz singer Carole Ann Taylor, who is known for redefining classic tunes like Nina Simone’s “You Can Have Him” and Nat King Cole’s “For All We Know.” Three-time Grammy-nominated educator Melton Mustafa, Jr., and renowned pianist Jim Gasior will also perform, joined by students of the New World School of the Arts High School Jazz and Instrumental Studies. But that’s not all. Florida International University Professor and Vice Provost Heather Russell will be a keynote speaker. She specializes in the African Diaspora, African American and Afro Caribbean literature and theory. She is also the author of “Legba’s Crossing: Narratology in The African Atlantic.” For those who cannot attend in person, the event will be livestreamed here.
Where: Pride Park, 1809 Meridian Avenue (at the Rainbow Eucalyptus tree)
When: Saturday, June 18. From 9 to 10 a.m.
For this year’s festivities, Fantasy Theatre Factory is offering powerful conference workshops presented by prominent community leaders. They’ll be providing valuable discussions on financial, creative, social, mental, and physical freedom. Presenters include Tawana Akins, Major Robin Stark and Traquesha Willis, with additional speakers Anthony Durden, Leroy Jones, Major Craig McQueen, Lyle Muhammad, Chief Charles Press, Marvin Weeks, and Martha Wells. Admission price is $10.
Where: Sandrell Rivers Theater, 6103 NW 7th Avenue
When: Saturday, June 18. From 4 to 8 p.m.
Get more than just a taste of African American cuisine from all over the U.S. at this ultimate foodie event hosted by Chefs Carla Hill and Cecil G. This soulful seaside village is comprised of Creole, Cajun, barbecue, soul food and even vegan dishes! There’s something for everyone. Entry to this event is free, and food and drinks are available for purchase on site. As for the concert, singer-songwriter Ronnie V.O.P. will be performing with help from the Hardemon Project.
Where: Lummus Park, 1130 Ocean Drive
When: Saturday, June 18. From 4 to 11 p.m.
It’s their second annual celebration and the the theme for this year is “Educate, Celebrate, and Heal.” Educating, celebrating, and embracing the truths of Juneteenth, Florida International University is inviting those in the community to gather at the Dotson Family Pavilion Lawn at its main campus. There will be musical performances, local artisan vendors, food trucks, raffles, and loads of fun at this free event. The first 200 faculty and staff, and 150 students to register will receive a food voucher to use at any of the event’s food trucks.
Where: Florida International University, 11200 SW 8th Street
When: Saturday, June 18. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In light of its dedication to empowering Black filmmakers and artists by showcasing the best in film and television, the American Black Film Festival in partnership with the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, will be hosting its annual Community Day Showcase. Showings include After Jackie, the often-overlooked story of the second wave of talented Black baseball players after Jackie Robinson, and a new comic book franchise sneak peek. The joint event is free admission.
Where: Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater, 819 NW 2nd Avenue
When: Sunday, June 19. From 12 to 6 p.m.
You can join the City of Miami Gardens for the second annual Juneteenth Drive-In Celebration with the theme, “We Are One!” It will be hosted by the city’s own comedian Marvin Dixon and will includie music by DJ Bo Weezy. This year’s fest will be free, and a $50 Sweet Butter Experience includes dinner, a signature drink, VIP entrance and seating, and of course, a swag bag.
Where: Calder Casino, 21001 NW 27th Avenue
When: Sunday, June 19. Doors open at 3 p.m. and the program will begin at 4.
You’re in for an evening of poetry, music, and dance, hosted by the Miami Beach Classical Music Festival. Vocalists will sing along to selections from the Great American Songbook selected by Miami Beach Classical Music Festival Director Michael Rossi. The renown Peter London Global Dance Company, poet Geoffrey Philip, and musician Gregory LeDon (also known as “The Saxophone Guy”) will also showcase their talents.
Where: Lummus Park, on Ocean Drive between 14 Street and 14 Place
When: Sunday, June 19. From 4 to 8 p.m.
If you can’t get enough of live music, then you’ll love this event featuring award-winning vocalist LeNard Rutledge and pianist Jim Gasior. You’ll not only be invited to watch the performances, but you’ll also be able to visit the Betsy Poetry Rail located in the breezeway adjacent to the hotel to read “A Dream Deffered” by Langston Hughes. It is considered to be one of the most influential poems of the 20th century with 11 lines that provide profound reference to the African American experience and to the meaning of Juneteenth. These events are free.
Where: The Betsy Hotel, 1440 Ocean Drive
When: Sunday, June 19. From 6 to 11 p.m.
Catch an immersive performance honoring America’s second Independence Day, presented by Hued Songs. There will be powerful animations centered around Black identity displayed throughout the performances by a diverse cast of local artists, including Ace Anderson, Shanna Woods, Vanya Allen, Kunya Rowley, and Michelle Grant-Murray, among many others. “This is a celebration of Juneteenth past, present, and future,” according to event Artistic Director Kunya Rowley. The performance will be presented free of charge as well as digital livestream.
Where: North Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Avenue
When: Sunday, June 19. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Performance starts at 8 p.m.