Within the past few years, Juneteenth has finally become a widely-known holiday.
Though the Black community has always celebrated with at-home barbecues and parties, now towns and museums that hadn’t acknowledged the celebration before are throwing all-out festivals.
Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when news that slavery had been abolished reached Galveston, Texas, two years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. The freed people of Galveston erupted into celebrations that day. In 2020, Gov. Phil Murphy officially made Juneteenth a state holiday.
From art galleries to concerts to sip and paint nights, here are local Juneteenth events you should know about.
Black-owned businesses will be celebrated at Bloomfield’s 2nd annual Juneteenth celebration, running from noon to 6 p.m. on June 18. Throughout the day, visitors will participate in live inspiration services, dance classes and musical performances. Hair stylists from the area will pay homage to Madam CJ Walker in The Giveback Hair Show. You can find this festival between Bloomfield and Glenwood Avenues and Lackawanna. Go to the Conger St. parking lot or the lot above Food Town for free parking.
More info: bloomfieldtwpnj.com.
A massive Juneteenth party is coming to American Dream Mall (1 American Dream Way). Founded by Jersey natives Isaiah Thomas, Stevens Germain and Jola Babalola, the festival is expected to draw thousands with musical performances, games, Black-owned vendors and more. You must be 21 or over to attend. It will take place outside of American Dream and runs from noon to 9 p.m. on June 19. General admission is $25.
More info: juneteenth-nj.com.
The African Cultural Arts Family Festival will run from 1 to 7 p.m. on June 18 in Berry Lane Park in Jersey City (1000 Garfield Ave.). Fill your day browsing the wares from vendors or munching on delicacies from the food court. Expect live music and activities for kids.
Check out artwork by Black artists and photographers at URE Media’s Juneteenth gallery from 6 to 10 p.m. on June 18 (140 Sip Ave.). Vendors will have their work displayed and available for purchase. The event is BYOB and includes live music. Attendees must be 21 or older and wear either black, red or green. Tickets are $5.
A Paint and Sip will be hosted in Spiotta Park (20-32 Village Plaza) from 5 to 7 p.m. on June 17. What you create during the guided outdoor painting event will be used in the Juneteenth Community Art Project. Every participant will get a 12×12-inch board to be used as a single pixel in a larger image. All art supplies will be provided, but you are encouraged to bring your own refreshments. Register to participate at southorange.org; space is limited to 25 people. However, you can bring your own supplies to the park to paint along.
Another celebration, Downtown After Sundown, will come to Spiotta Park from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on June 18.
The unveiling of the Juneteenth Community Art Project will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on June 19 at the South Orange Performing Art Center’s lobby (1 SOPAC Way). The Dre Barnes trio will perform, and light refreshments will be served.
More info: southorange.org/833/Juneteenth-Celebrations.
MAPSO will host a festival from 5 to 9 p.m. on June 18 in Memorial Park (580 Valley St.). Readings and performances by Ras Heru, Donyah Michelle, Rachelle Parker, SOMA Justice, Jané, Autumn Jones and more are scheduled. A fireworks show will finish out the night.
Head to the Newark Museum of Art for an outdoor Juneteenth festival in honor of Harriet Tubman from noon to 5 p.m. on June 18. Guests will get the decorate ceramic tiles that will then be used to create the Harriet Tubman Monument in Washington Park.
Jacari Harris, executive director of the George Floyd Foundation, will speak, and performances by Black artists and dancers, plus crafts and activities, are scheduled throughout the day. Admission to the museum is free that day. The festivities will take place outdoors in Washington Park (which will soon be renamed Harriet Tubman Square), across the street from the NMOA (49 Washington St., Newark).
More info: newarkmuseumart.org.
A pre-Juneteenth R&B skate party will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. on June 15 at the Branch Brook Park Roller Skating Center (7th Avenue). Music will be provided by DJ Mustafah and DJ KHI. This event is open to ages over 18. An advanced ticket costs $30 and day-of admission is $35.
The Teaneck Public Library (840 Teaneck Road) will host a free Juneteenth celebration for babies, toddlers and young elementary school kids from 4 to 4:45 p.m. on June 17. It will be held in the Children’s Reading Garden and will include a story, crafts and a snack with Seleene Lewis-Wong.
More info: teanecklibrary.org.
A silent walk from Larch and North Streets to Pomander Walk Burial Ground will begin at 8:45 a.m. on June 18. The area was used as a burial ground by Native Americans before European settlers arrived. African slaves that worked on New Jersey farms were later buried there.
At noon, a Juneteenth flag-raising ceremony will take place at Milton A. Votee Park on Palisade Avenue.
More info: teanecknj.gov/events/69672.
Jacquelyn Graham-Williams, a gospel, soul and jazz singer, will headline a Juneteenth concert at Tierney’s Tavern (138 Valley Road) on June 19. She will be joined by musicians Gail Campbell, Aaron Williams, Elder Linett Andrews & the SPBC Gospel Band and a jazz quartet. Tickets are $20, but free for fathers, as the event is held on Father’s Day. Doors open at 1 p.m., and the show begins at 2 p.m.
Biagio’s Ristorante (299 Paramus Road) will present a pop-up brunch from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. on June 19. Along with celebrating Juneteenth, the event is being thrown as a 40th birthday bash for locals Lenny the Barber and Ron Fasion. Event planner Blacktie Steph will also be there. Music will be provided by DJ Young Fresh and DJ Ray-Z. A full buffet brunch is included.
General admission is $40 and includes a buffet brunch. VIP Admission is $75 per person and includes a table that seats four with an additional two-bottle minimum per table.
The NAACP Bayonne branch will host a festival from noon to 5 p.m. on June 18 in the G. Thomas DiDomenico Park (375-409 Avenue A). There will be live entertainment, food trucks, vendors, giveaways and a 50/50 raffle. A Juneteenth Classic Basketball game begins at 3 p.m. Head to Mr. Cee’s (17 East 21st St.) from 6 to 10 p.m. for the after-party.
Elevate Hackensack will host the city’s Juneteenth festival from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 18 at Carver Park (294 2d St.). There will be scholarship giveaways, live performances, food trucks, face painting and speeches from public figures.
More info: hackensack.org/events.
Rebecca King is a food writer for NorthJersey.com. For more on where to dine and drink, please subscribe today and sign up for our North Jersey Eats newsletter.
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