On June 19th, 1865, two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to ensure that all enslaved people were rightfully freed according to the executive order. The proclamation declared that as of January 1, 1863, all enslaved people in the states currently engaged in rebellion against the Union “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” 

Although the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863 it could not be implemented in states like Texas still under Confederate control. When approximately two thousand troops arrived in Galveston, they brought with them a decree of freedom, celebration, and the beginning of a long journey toward equality for African Americans as citizens of American society. While we honor this incredible moment in history, we must recognize that the long and complex history of slavery did not end with this extraordinary push towards freedom. Periods of progression such as Reconstruction were followed by tremendous loss of rights and violence ushered in by Jim Crow laws.  

In 2021 Independence Now celebrated Juneteenth with stories from two of our colleagues. In that article they detailed the intersection of being Black and being a person with a disability. It is an insightful and necessary discussion on the issue of race and policing in America.  You can read that article here.  

In celebrating Juneteenth, we recognize that celebration of freedom for African Americans from enslavement is intrinsically tied to the need for awareness and education surrounding the ongoing fight for justice and equality.  

For ways to celebrate Juneteenth check out these events happening in our community:

Juneteenth Events 

Juneteenth events in Washington, D.C. 

Step Afrika! performs “The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence” 

Through July 14, Arena Stage in Southwest D.C., $41+ 


Inspired by the series of Jacob Lawrence paintings at The Phillips Collection, Step Afrika! is using it to tell the story of the Great Migration on the Kreeger Theater stage, using their signature percussive dance-theater style. 

At the Phillips Collection, you can also see a collection of five 10-minute plays commissioned in response to Lawrence’s paintings. The staged reading will happen Thursday, June 13 at 7 p.m.; tickets are $12 for adults. 

National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Juneteenth Community Day Celebration 

Sat., June 15, 11 a.m.to 4:30 p.m., Washington, D.C., free 


Centered around the theme of “Freedom, Movement, and Migration,” the National Museum of African American History and Culture will host story time, crafts and live jazz performances starting at 3 p.m. in Heritage Hall. Stop by the Sweet Home Café for vegan chef Bryant Terry’s book signing and a mocktail workshop. 

ONE DC’s Juneteenth celebrations 

June 17 to 21 


ONE DC, a community-based organization is hosting several days of Juneteenth events. 

The centerpiece is the community festival on Wednesday at the Black Workers & Wellness Center at 2500 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE, including live music, history lessons, food, and art. 

Juneteenth Comedy Jam 

Tues., June 18, 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., DC Comedy Clubhouse (20131 14th Street NW, Washington, D.C.), $15 


DC Comedy Clubhouse is hosting a stand-up comedy night featuring local and national comedians. 

Anacostia Community Museum’s Juneteenth Freedom Celebration 

Weds., June 19, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., free 


The Anacostia Community Museum will host a day of live music outdoors, including performances by Noochie, CuzzinB, Too Much Talent Band, Alex Vaugn, and Dupont Brass, plus kid-friendly activities including Double Dutch. 

Make sure to stop inside to the see the museum’s latest exhibition, “A Bold and Beautiful Vision: A Century of Black Arts Education in Washington, D.C., 1900-2000.” 

You’re welcome to bring drinks, prepared food, and a blanket for a picnic, but no cooking or alcohol are allowed. Local food trucks will also be available. 

Fighters for Freedom: William H. Johnson Picturing Justice 

Through Sept. 10, Smithsonian American Art Museum, free admission 


William H. Johnson made a series, “Fighters for Freedom” to honor black activists, scientists, teachers, performers, and international heads of people who work to bring peace. The 34-painting exhibition honors some historical figures and their accomplishments. 

In the virtual conversation on Tuesday, June 18, curators will discuss two pieces loaned by Hampton University Art Museum as well as other works from the exhibition.  

Juneteenth events in Maryland 

The Annual Scotland Juneteenth Heritage Festival  

Sat., June 15 to Weds., June 19, various locations in Montgomery County, free 


Scotland AME Zion Church, a historically black church off Seven Locks Road in Potomac, is celebrating the 100th aniversary of its founding and reprising its Juneteenth Heritage Festival for a second year in 2024. The church raised $60,000 for a repair and expansion project last year, when it drew 10,000 people to celebrate. This year, it will share the proceeds with five community organizations, according to a press release. 

The festival begins on Saturday, June 15, with a night of music headlined by Chuck Brown Band at the Bethesda Theater. 

Sports clinics and an interfaith breakfast are also on the packed schedule of events. 

Juneteenth will bring festivals to Cabin John Village and Cabin John Park, including a Children’s Caribbean Carnival, and the grand finale will be fireworks show at Shirley Povich Field at 9:45 p.m. Organizers say they will be the first Juneteenth fireworks in Montgomery County. 

Juneteenth by the Prince George’s Parks Black History Program 

Sat., June 15, noon to 5 p.m., Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, free 


Chuck Brown Band, Big Tony and Trouble Funk, Brencore Allstars Band and Luther ReLives (singing the ballads of Luther Vandross) are a big draw of Prince George’s County’s main Juneteenth festival, but it is also about education and community. 

“I think that this is a great event for people to, first, come out and have a great time and enjoy themselves, but also we cannot, you know, forget that this is an opportunity for education and learning,” Doster, one of the festival organizers, said. 

History experiences and art activities are also in the works. Cheverly artist Jeffrey Felten-Green is the 2024 featured artist, and plenty of local food and merch vendors will be there, too. 

Freedom Day Black-Owned Marketplace 

Wed., June 19, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Capital Canopy at National Harbor 


National Harbor will host events all day with black-owned businesses, including food and clothing vendors. There’s also a free Sip and Paint event at 1 p.m. Stick around for the Juneteenth Cultural Showcase from 5-7 p.m., featuring Secret Society Band, the Eleanor Roosevelt High School step team and Prince George’s Poet Laureate. 

Juneteenth events in Virginia 

Frying Pan Farm Park 

Sat., June 15, 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m., Herndon, Virginia, free 


Explore the history of the Black congregants of the Frying Pan Baptist Meeting House, who fought for greater freedoms and formed their own community after emancipation, according to Fairfax County Parks. 

Juneteenth at Manassas National Battlefield Park 

Weds., June 15, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 12521 Lee Highway, Manassas, Virginia, free 


The historic site is dedicating its newest exhibit, dedicated to blacksmith Andrew Redman, on Juneteenth. Redman, who was born into enslavement and said he earned his freedom, ran a blacksmith shop in the wake of the Civil War, the National Park Service says. 

The dedication of the shop, set for 1:30 p.m., will be followed by an interpretive program sharing Redman’s story and blacksmithing demonstrations. Walking tours, history talks, and a hands-on children’s archaeology activity are also planned. 

Alexandria Juneteenth celebrations 

Fri., June 14 to Sat., June 22 


The commemorations kick off with a musical storytelling show from Grammy-nominated performer Culture Queen on Friday, June 14, followed by a remembrance ceremony at Douglass Cemetery on Saturday. 

Head to Market Square on Juneteenth for storytelling, music and spoken word on Juneteenth, starting at 1:30 p.m. 

Here’s the full list of events and historic sites to visit. 

Walk Arlington Presents: Juneteenth Black Heritage Walk 

Sun., June 16, 1-3 p.m., Arlington, Virginia, free 


Join Craig Syphax, a leader in the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington, for a two-hour guided tour of sites with historical and family significance. Attendees can meet at Towers Park. 

Arlington Community Juneteenth Celebration & Cookout 

Weds., June 19, 4-7 p.m., Metropolitan Park in Arlington, free 


Come together to Arlington’s Met Park for live music, performances, food, and family-friendly activities. This year’s theme is, “What freedom means to me.” It is hosted by a group of Arlington organizations including the historical society, local NAACP, and Arlington Coalition of Black Clergy. 

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