Last year, Boston officially recognized Juneteenth for the first time. It’s a holiday commemorating the day enslaved people in Galveston, Texas were told that the Civil War had ended and that they were free—two years after the end of the war. The holiday has been celebrated in Texas and across the South for generations with parades, cookouts and dancing. Since Juneteenth has become a federal holiday, those celebrations are moving North. We’ve rounded up a few ways to commemorate the holiday in Boston this weekend.
Thursday, June 16
Kick off the weekend at Bow Market in Somerville. It’s going to be a warm night, perfect to take a stroll through a selection of Black-owned businesses like home decor brand Betty D’Minx, size-inclusive clothing brand B. Royal Boutique and T-shirt company Hope Design. If you’re not looking to shop, you can still spend time with the community at performances by DJ YVNG PAVL and local R&B artist Miranda Rae.
Friday, June 17
Throughout the South, including my birth state of Oklahoma, Juneteenth isn’t Juneteenth without a block party. Celebrate the holiday this Friday by doing just that in Nubian Square. There will be DJ performances from across Boston, including SuperSmashBroz and Real P, as well as BIPOC-owned food trucks. Admission to the event is free. Dance, celebrate and reflect with the community 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday, June 18
For little ones, the Boston Public Library has partnered with the racial justice education organization Little Uprisings to provide a musical storytime celebrating Juneteenth. Children who attend will learn the history of Juneteenth through song and puppet play, and they’ll receive a copy of “The ABCs of Black History” by Rio Cortez. This is a unique opportunity for kids to engage with American history in an interactive and accessible way.
'Jubilee Juneteenth and The Thirteenth' at Longfellow House
Sunday, June 19
The National Parks Service has partnered with Boston’s Museum of African American History for an evening of poetry and film. At the start of the event, there will be a processional followed by a poetry reading. The film screening will take place outside on the lawn of the Longfellow House. They’ll be playing “Jubilee Juneteenth and the Thirteenth,” a film that tells the story of Black Bostonians' role in slavery abolition.
Monday, June 20
On Monday, there will be an open house at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It’s free for all Massachusetts residents, and there’s a full slate of programming, from a talk featuring artists Ifé Franklin and Chenoa Baker to a job fair and portrait making. Franklin and Baker’s conversation will take place in the museum's newest exhibition, “Touching Roots,” which traces Blackness across the Atlantic. Portrait-making will take place in the Education Center, and visitors’ creations will be presented in the exhibition “Portraits of Leadership” alongside “The Obama Portraits Tour” when it opens on Sept. 3.