Juneteenth celebrations are starting up this weekend and will continue on through the month. Here is everything you need to know about the holiday and how to celebrate.
Juneteenth started when Gordon Granger, a Union general, told the enslaved African-Americans of Galveston, Texas, that they were free. This was about two months after Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Virginia, and ended the Civil War. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had been signed in 1863.
“From the 13th to the 19th someone went through each plantation to let them know they were free,” says Arthur Penny, known as Nana Kofi, organizer of one of the longest-running Juneteenth events in St. Louis. It took a week to accomplish and “that’s why it’s called Juneteenth,” Nana Kofi explains. June 19 is the official date of the federal holiday, though.
After the death of George Floyd and nationwide protests in 2020, congress passed legislation to recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday. It was already recognized as a holiday in some states, including Texas. Joe Biden signed the measure into law in 2021, making it the 11th federally recognized holiday.
June 11 – Juneteenth 2022 in the Delmar Loop
Juneteenth 2022 is this Saturday in the Delmar Loop. “It’s a celebration of community, economic growth and Black culture,” says Celeste Grayer, who organized the event. The festival will be at Delmar and Hamilton, where there are more than 39 Black-owned businesses.
“It’s like a secret gem that no one knows about,” she says. Grayer is a social worker with St. Louis Public Schools and a trained artist. She has been doing events and projects with the Delmar Loop for close to 10 years.
The Juneteenth celebration in the Delmar Loop is Saturday, June 11, from noon to 5 p.m. Get there early so you don’t miss the drum call by Baba Kunma that will open the event. There will also be performances by African Mascarade – Mask to Stilts, African Dance by Spirit Angel of African Dance, and the Red & Black Brass Band. You can also enjoy family activities including face painting, henna art, a science lab and photo booth, plus food from local restaurants. Admission is free.
June 16 – Juneteenth Keynote Lecture and Gospel Music Performance
The Missouri History Museum(5700 Lindell Boulevard, 314-746-4599) is devoting this Thursday Night at the Museum to Juneteenth, with a keynote lecture from Bill Doggett, who will talk about his father, the civil rights leader Reverend John N. Doggett Jr. The Community Gospel Choir of St. Louis will also perform. This event is Thursday, June 16, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Admission is free.
June 18 – Juneteenth in The Greater Ville
Nana Kofi is the owner of Sabayet, a community engagement center in the Ville. It has ben hosting a Juneteenth celebration for 16 years.
“The Greater Ville neighborhood used to do the Annie Malone Parade,” says Nana Kofi, whose moniker means chief and Friday-born. “But once it moved downtown, it left the Ville, I guess, just kind of empty.” Nana Kofi worked with aldermen and others to see what he could do and one of St. Louis’s longest-running Juneteenth celebrations was born.
The celebration is Saturday, June 18, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 4000 Maffit Avenue. The event is very family friendly (kids eat free) and includes pony rides, arts and crafts, and storytellers from the Saint Louis Art Museum.
June 18 – Juneteenth Community Ride
Trailnet’s Juneteenth Community Ride partners history with health. The all-paces bike ride will include live music, while Missouri Historical Society’s historians and storytellers share city history. The ride celebrates St. Louis’ Black artists, history and musicians.
The guided bike ride takes place on city streets on Saturday, June 18, beginning at Tandy Community Center (4206 Kennerly Avenue). Check-in starts at 9 a.m. The ride starts at 10 a.m. Registration is free, but donations can be made at checkout.
June 18 – Delmar Main Street’s Juneteenth Festival
Delmar will play host to another Juneteenth Festival on Saturday, June 18. A day full of exploring Delmar is on the agenda: The festivities start at 9 a.m. in the Delmar Makers District, featuring the Youth Makers Market and over 50 local vendors, while Black-owned food trucks serve up delicious dishes until 1 p.m.
Ruth Porter Mall will host a Health and Wellness gathering from 1 to 4 p.m. with families having the chance to participate in an outdoor yoga class, taekwondo or maybe even get an adjustment from a local chiropractor. Nonprofits will also be there disseminating information about their services, as well as community associations promoting engagement. Better Family Life’s KYPE dancers will be there, waiting for you to boogie down with them.
The grand finale is from 4 to 8 p.m., with a Happy Hour Block Party. Juneteenth drink specials, food, vendors and more await at the last half of the party. The event starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 18 on Delmar Main Street (314-7530-5449, Delmar between Debalivere and Academy Avenue).
June 18 – Juneteenth Forward Together
The metro east is hosting its very own Juneteenth celebration. Juneteenth Celebration: Forward Together promises education, entertainment, food and community vendors. The event aims to remember and reflect upon Juneteenth. Juneteenth Celebration: Forward Together is at Love Church (1549 Frank Scott Parkway West) on Saturday, June 18, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s free to attend.
June 18 – Walk for Democracy and Justice
Africans Rising Together 2063 is back for its second Walk for Democracy and Justice. Last year, Mayor Tishaura Jones was the walk’s honorary chair. The walk plans to “feature biographical information about influential Black historical activists and the history and significance of Juneteenth and National Caribbean Heritage Month,” according to a press release. Proceeds raised will assist Africans Rising Together 2063 in promoting cultural awareness, education and training on building generational wealth among African-Americans, Africans in the Diaspora and Africans on the Continent.
Participate in the Walk for Democracy and Justice at Forest Park (On Cricket Field, 5595 Grand Drive) on Saturday, June 18, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Registration costs $18.65, but children under 12 and those 55 and older are free.
June 19 – Juneteenth Annual Fitness Celebration
Join Move by BJC at this fitness event that will get you to work up a sweat on Juneteenth. The fitness celebration is June 19 from 8 a.m. to noon at Move by BJC (4220 Duncan Avenue). Tickets are $5 per class.
June 19 – Juneteenth in Grand Center
The Contemporary Art Museum, Pulitzer Arts Foundation, and Sheldon Concert Hall and Art Galleries are celebrating Father’s Day and Juneteenth in Grand Center. The event will include art activities at the Contemporary Art Museum (3750 Washington Avenue), free family portraits at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation (3716 Washington Avenue) and a St. Louis Kettle Corn Truck on Washington Avenue. The event is Sunday, June 19, from noon to 3 p.m. Admission is free.
June 26 – Juneteenth 63121
St. Louis Story Stitchers is hosting this event at True Vine Baptist Church (8420 Hill Avenue) and it will include live performances from Story Stitchers’ Pick the City Up, a form of urban storytelling that features hip-hop, spoken word and other elements of story magic. They will talk on the theme of gun violence. There will also be a story booth for you to share your own tale. The event is Sunday, June 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free.
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