How Orange County is Celebrating Juneteenth

Last year, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, making Juneteenth a federal holiday. In California last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation declaring June 19 as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day: A Day of Observance.” However, California has yet to make it a state holiday where state workers are able to take a new paid day off. State employees may take the day off on June 19 instead of using their annual personal holiday on another day.

Juneteenth commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans were freed on June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth marks this milestone in American history and its celebration has spread beyond its origin in Texas, hence becoming a federal holiday in 2021.

Despite the ongoing efforts to make June 19 a state holiday, there are still various ways to celebrate this national holiday in Orange County:

Segerstrom’s Juneteenth Celebration in Costa Mesa

When: June 17-19
Where: 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
Tickets: Free admission and a $5 Father’s Day Celebration ticket
Information: scfta.org/CenterConnection, (714) 556-2787

A three-day celebration of Juneteenth is taking place at the Segerstrom Center of the Arts. There will be various events over the weekend such as poetry readings, musical performances and a movie screening of “Black Panther.” Black creatives and educators will share their experiences, self-expression and knowledge with the community.

Some guests include Peter J. Harris, the author of “The Black Man of Happiness: In Pursuit of My ‘Unalienable Right,’” and Jamila Moore Pewu, professor of digital humanities and new media in history at California State University, Fullerton. All of the events are free with required online RSVP except for the Father’s Day Celebration ticket, which is $5 per person and includes lunch. Also in June, there will be three West African Thursday dance nights to celebrate Juneteenth throughout the month.

This is Segerstrom Center’s second Juneteenth celebration, with last year’s celebration only being one day, according to Carla Cruz, the center’s senior director of communications. Cruz said the center is expanding this celebration through the entire month as a way to continue to grow and build the community through arts and culture.

“We want to create a more connected Orange County,” Cruz said. “As the cultural arts center it’s so important for us to be able to present different shows, different performances, different programs for everyone in the community to come together to explore, learn and have fun.”

Gospel Voices of OC in Orange

When: 4-6 p.m., Sunday, June 19
Where: Musco Center for the Arts, Chapman University, One University Drive, Orange
Tickets: $20-$53
Information: artsandlearning.org/tickets-and-events, (714) 728-7100

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Debora Wondercheck is the creator and producer of Gospel Voices of OC, which will be held June 19 at the Musco Center for the Arts.

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Debora Wondercheck is the creator and producer of Gospel Voices of OC, which will be held June 19 at the Musco Center for the Arts. Credit: Photo courtesy of Musco Center for the Arts

The Musco Center for the Arts is hosting a Juneteenth and Father’s Day concert with live musical and theatrical performances. This celebration of African American artistic accomplishments and resilience will feature multi-generational Black artists in the choir, dance, band, orchestra, theater and spoken word. The arts center is located at One University Drive, Orange and the concert will start at 4 p.m. Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased here.

Gospel Voices of OC is produced by Arts & Learning Conservatory president and CEO Debora Wondercheck, who collaborated with the Musco Center for the Arts for this Juneteenth event highlighting Black artists. 

“It is a great privilege for me to present diverse talents with a keen focus on the historical significance of Black performers throughout history. The afternoon will be a joyous Juneteenth celebration of freedom and excellence to inspire all people of all ages,” Wondercheck said.

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Four-time Grammy winner Munyungo Jackson will be featured in the Gospel Voices of OC concert on June 19 at the Musco Center for the Arts. The event will recognize Juneteenth and Father’s Day.

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Four-time Grammy winner Munyungo Jackson will be featured in the Gospel Voices of OC concert on June 19 at the Musco Center for the Arts. The event will recognize Juneteenth and Father’s Day. Credit: Photo courtesy of Musco Center for the Arts

Juneteenth Freedom Celebration in Irvine

When: 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Sunday, June 19
Where: Great Park, 8000 Great Park Blvd., Irvine
Tickets: Free admission
Information: cityofirvine.org

The city of Irvine is hosting a Juneteenth celebration at the Great Park’s Palm Court Arts Complex. The event’s purpose is to celebrate freedom, joy and hope by honoring the cultural contributions and history of African Americans in the community and nation. There will be a marketplace featuring Black, Indigenous and people of color’s work, live music, art pop-ups, performances and food. The event is for all ages and is open and free to the public.

Juneteenth Freedom Day in Laguna Beach

When: 3 p.m., Sunday, June 19
Where: Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center, ​​235 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach
Tickets: Free film screening, $30 concert and $50 concert & BBQ
Information: lbculturalartscenter.org/, (949) 652-2787

Laguna Beach is having its first-ever Juneteenth celebration at the Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center. The celebration of Black pride, history and voices will include a screening of Oscar-winning documentary “Summer of Soul,” a live concert, an art display and food. Blues, funk and soul singer O’Malley Jones, who is known for his flashy and innovative style, will perform with his band Stepping Into Now.

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O’Malley Jones will play a soul/R&B-flavored concert at 6 p.m. June 19 with his band Stepping Into Now at the Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center.

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O’Malley Jones will play a soul/R&B-flavored concert at 6 p.m. June 19 with his band Stepping Into Now at the Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center. Credit: Photo courtesy of Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center

California artist and adviser to the event Allyson Allen will have her African American quilting art pieces depicting enslavement exhibited. Red velvet cake will be served with Texas-style barbecue since red foods are traditionally served at Juneteenth celebrations to represent the blood shed by the enslaved ancestors. A portion of the event’s proceeds will be donated to the African American Alliance Fund, which raises awareness about systemic racism and supports African Americans in Orange County.

Allen said without Black history there is no American history, and Juneteenth marks the freedom of African Americans almost 100 years after the American Declaration of Independence. 

“Over the years, Juneteenth celebrations have combined with annual family reunions, reminiscent of when the newly freed slaves set out to find and reunite with family members from whom they were separated,” Allen said. “I’m pleased to see that the Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center is marking this date with good food, good music and good company. Happy Juneteenth!”

Juneteenth Celebration and Scholarship Brunch in Anaheim

When: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday, June 18
Where: The Fifth Rooftop Restaurant & Bar, 1650 S Harbor Blvd., Anaheim
Tickets: $50-$100
Information: thurgoodmarshallbarassociation.org

Thurgood Marshall Bar Association is a contemporary bar association committed to connecting, supporting and increasing the Black legal community in Orange County, and it will be hosting a Juneteenth celebratory brunch at the Fifth Rooftop Restaurant & Bar. The event will feature live music, dance, art, awards and spoken word. The event on Saturday, June 18 starts at 11 a.m. and tickets range from $50-$100.

Celebrate Juneteenth at Pretend City Children’s Museum in Irvine 

When: Friday, June 17
Where: Pretend City Children’s Museum, 29 Hubble, Irvine
Tickets: Included with museum admission, which ranges from free to $19.95
Information: pretendcity.org, (949) 428-3900

Pretend City Children’s Museum’s Juneteenth celebration will take place all day. The purpose of this event is to celebrate Black history through creativity, curiosity and cultural awareness. This celebration will include interactive art, sensory story time and music. The museum will be open from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1:30-4 p.m.

Jessica Choi is an intern for Arts & Culture at Voice of OC. She can be reached at jessica2678@gmail.com.


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