RICHMOND – Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, 2021, is the oldest known commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. It marks the day in 1865 that enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, the last of the former Confederate states to abolish slavery, finally heard that the Civil War had ended, and learned that the Emancipation Proclamation had made them free nearly two years earlier.
In 2020, Governor Ralph Northam, along with Virginia recording artist Pharrell and other community members, announced that Juneteenth would be a permanent state holiday, making 2021 the second year for Juneteenth being an official state holiday.
Virginia is celebrating the holiday all month long with events, speaker series, tours, and virtual offerings across the state.
Juneteenth, A Freedom Celebration 2021, June 27
Presented by the Elegba Folklore Society, Juneteenth, A Freedom Celebration is Richmond’s flagship Juneteenth holiday commemoration. First presented in 1996, it is reflective of Richmond and Virginia’s particular and poignant stories of enslavement and emancipation, and it highlights the resolve and resilience of Africa’s children in America. Attendees can engage in performances, healing cyphers, the Get Woke Youth Summit, the Freedom Market, historical perspective, and ancestral homage at Richmond’s African Burial Ground.
Saturday Salutations: Juneteenth Celebration for All, June 19, 9-11 a.m.
In partnership with Project Yoga Richmond, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond presents a very special Saturday Salutations: Juneteenth Celebration for All on the terraced lawn. The event will invite healing, cultivate community, and unify intentions with others.
Henrico County’s Juneteenth Celebration, June 19, 1-10 p.m.
Join Henrico Recreation & Parks at Dorey Park for fireworks, live music performances featuring Plunky & Oneness and Bak N Da Day, food trucks, a vendor fair, live history interpreters and games for kids.
Juneteenth Celebration in Appomattox, June 19, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
This family friendly event will take place in Courtland Field in Historic Downtown Appomattox and features live entertainment, local vendors, food trucks, giveaways, and more.
James Madison’s Montpelier will be celebrating Juneteenth all month long including:
- A Virtual Celebration the month of June with online content featuring the performers, vendors, reenactors, and historical information that make up the core of the Juneteenth Celebration.
- A Virtual Book Talk on June 2 with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annette Gordon-Reed to discuss her book “On Juneteenth.”
- A Virtual Book Talk on June 10 with teacher, librarian, and historical fiction writer Glenda Armand to discuss her award-winning book “Love Twelve Miles Long.”
- On June 19, Montpelier will open its award-winning exhibition The Mere Distinction of Colour, the South Yard structures, and the Gilmore Cabin, to visitors. In addition, the 1910 Train Depot will be open for self-guided exploration. The historic site will also be offering outdoor Enslaved Community Walking Tours.
Juneteenth Celebration at Ida Lee Park, June 19, 12-6 p.m.
Created by the “BURG” Family Reunion Club, this day-long event at Ida Lee Park in Leesburg will celebrate the occasion as well as educate visitors on the significance of June 19. The day includes guest speakers, a variety of musical acts including the Chuck Brown Band, food, craft beverages and more.
“Tell Me Your Name” Tour at Carlyle House, June 18, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Join Carlyle House Historic Park staff for a tour focusing on the experiences of the enslaved community at Carlyle House and his plantations in Alexandria. The guided tour will explore the historical context of slavery in 18th century Alexandria and the importance of ongoing research efforts to connect with descendants. Reservations are required as space is limited. All COVID-procedures will be in place during this tour. Admission: $10 per person
Under the Same Roof: Enslaved and Free Servants at the Lee-Fendall House, June 19, 2021, 2 p.m.
This Juneteenth, explore the Lee-Fendall House in Alexandria from the perspectives of the enslaved and free African Americans who lived and worked in the home as domestic servants, both before and after the Civil War. Hear the stories of how they built and shaped the Lee-Fendall House over the course of its history. Face masks are required and the tour is limited to 8 participants. Tickets must be purchased in advance and are $10 per person.
Juneteenth Cel-liberation in Culpeper, June 19, 4-8 pm.
This Juneteenth event will take place in Yowell Meadow Park in Historic Downtown Culpeper to celebrate, educate, and unify building the Black community. There will be a DJ, moonbounce, water activties, basketball tournament, community raffle, Juneteenth mask and shirt giveaways, and more.
- Juneteenth Opening Ceremony, 10-11 a.m.
Join the Williamsburg community to commemorate, celebrate, and reflect on the Black experience in America at this year’s annual Juneteenth Opening Ceremony on Market Square in Colonial Williamsburg. Keynote address will be given by Professor Robert Watson of Hampton University on the meaning of Juneteenth. This ceremony is free to anyone who wishes to attend and is presented in partnership with William & Mary, The Let Freedom Ring Foundation, The First Baptist Church, The City of Williamsburg, and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. The Opening Ceremony is followed by a cookout at Chowning’s Tavern on Market Square, featuring a menu curated by award-winning food historian and chef Michael Twitty.
- “Loquacious Lucy” performance at the Play House Stage on Palace Green, 11:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Colonial Williamsburg’s Museum Theatre Department presents special Juneteenth performances of the play “Loquacious Lucy,” the story of an enslaved child who learns her friend has been sold. The play, part of Colonial Williamsburg’s Entertainments at the Play House, is open to guests with Colonial Williamsburg admission with limited capacity.
- “Remembrance: Honoring the Voices” on Market Square, 1-3 p.m.
The community presents “Remembrance: Honoring the Voices,” featuring live presentations of oral history to honor and preserve the voices of our community to support learning, growth and healing through the power of the spoken word.
- Juneteenth Celebration at William & Mary, June 19, 2 p.m.
The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg will present a virtual Juneteenth commemoration program that will include a performance of “Evolution of a Black Girl” by actress Morgan McCoy; music from such acts as The Gonzales Sisters, The Three Tenors and Matthew Willard; and remarks from university and community leaders. The program will also include footage from the groundbreaking for William & Mary’s Memorial to the Enslaved and a reading of the names of people who were enslaved by the university.
- “Joy in the Morning” on the Charlton Stage, 4 p.m.
Colonial Williamsburg presents the dramatic program “Joy in the Morning,” in which guests are invited to gather with members of the enslaved community to experience a music-filled message of hope. The program is open to guests with Colonial Williamsburg admission with limited capacity.
- “CW Conversation: Juneteenth” Virtual Program, 4 p.m.
Colonial Williamsburg presents “CW Conversation: Juneteenth,” the sixth program in its new, monthly virtual conversation series “US: Past, Present, Future.” The virtual series explores the intersection of current events, our shared history, and the enduring promises of America.
Commemorate Juneteenth at Jamestown Settlement, June 19, 2 p.m.
Jamestown was where the first recorded Africans in 1619 were brought after landing at Old Point Comfort and where the first slavery laws enacted in the late 17th century impacted their lives and status. In this thought-provoking 90-minute outdoor program of performance, music and dance, meet African Americans from three centuries who fought against those laws until freedom came. Juneteenth programs are included with Jamestown Settlement admission, but tickets to this limited-capacity event must be purchased in advance to reserve a seat.
The Eastern Shore will celebrate Juneteenth with a socially distanced Unity Parade, kicking off at 12pm from Fresh Market Plaza, located on Route 13 (Lankford Highway) in Exmore, creating a Juneteenth that goes beyond the limitations of physical boundaries, as freedom should know no limits. The Unity Parade will follow the parade route through Main Street to Exmore Town Park.
Juneteenth Solstice Fest, June 19, 12-10 p.m.
A free, all ages festival at Smartmouth Brewing’s Norfolk location featuring black owned vendor and art market hosted by Utopia Feni, Nomarama Late Night Munchie Market featuring black owned chefs and food pop-ups, and diverse live music performances by black artists all day.
Celebrate Juneteenth at Selden Market, June 19, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Downtown Norfolk’s local artisan market will provide a shopping experience featuring vendors, workshop leaders and experiences that feature products and services related to black owned businesses, uplifting black voices and businesses, celebrating African American arts, culture and achievements.
NBN Academy: Waterways to Freedom Tour, June 19, 9:30- 11 am
Join Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander, author of Waterways to Freedom for a walking tour of Underground Railroad sites in downtown Norfolk. Hundreds, if not thousands, of African Americans made daring escapes to the north via ships visiting Norfolk’s waterways. Learn more about Norfolk’s heritage and implications for the present. The tour begins at Fountain Park. Registration is limited to 25.
A Juneteenth Family Day Celebration with the Chrysler Museum of Art – June 19, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Bring the family to the Chrysler Museum of Art to celebrate Juneteenth in partnership with the Virginia African American Cultural Center. Art, music, and activities will honor the African American people, past and present, who fought for freedom. Hot Gumbo Brass Band will perform outside the museum. Attendees can do craft activities in Mary’s Garden and go on a scavenger hunt throughout the museum to see works of art by African American artists. The VAACC will also do a brief reenactment of the Juneteenth story.
Juneteenth in Newport News – June 12-19
This year’s Juneteenth in Newport News will be a week-long celebration, filled with events and activities for all ages. Some events are virtual, but others have been modified for in-person participation, with social distancing. Activities range from essay and poster contests for children to an outdoor concert at King-Lincoln Park and a Freedom Festival in the Superblock area of Downtown Newport News. Additional events include a conversation with a re-enactor portraying Frederick Douglass about the meaning of Juneteenth; a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation; a tour of The Newsome House Museum and Cultural Center; a Juneteenth production at Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center; and a meditation walk at Huntington Beach.
Juneteenth: Emancipation and Celebration Virtual Event in Hampton – June 16, 7 p.m.
The Fragments of Freedom Theatre Productions presents “Juneteenth: Emancipation and Celebration through Spoken Word Theatre and Music,” featuring the talents of spoken word artists and award-winning soul/R&B artist K’bana Blaq. Written and directed by Hampton playwright, Marie St. Clair, this moving and memorable experience will illuminate the origins and meaning of Juneteenth. Spoken word artists from the Hampton Roads area: Dreason Ruckett, L.E.V.I. and Aundre Raashard, will perform their original pieces with actors and singers to share the history, and celebrate the progress attained by generations past and present in the fight for freedom.
#ThirdThursday Public Art Walk in Virginia Beach, June 17, 4-6 p.m.
In celebration of Juneteenth weekend, join the Virginia Beach Cultural Affairs Department at the future home of the Virginia African American Cultural Center, where the public art installation “Portraits from a Place of Grace” is located. Richard Hollant’s work highlights residents from Virginia Beach’s 14 historically African American neighborhoods.
Juneteenth Celebration in Downtown Lexington, June 19, 12-9 p.m.
A celebration of Juneteenth throughout downtown including performances by Kuumba Dance Ensemble at Hopkins Green Park and Oasis Island Sounds on Washington Street, a Juneteenth Art Show reception at Nelson Gallery, free raffle, and more. Lexington restaurants have pledged to feature a special Juneteenth dish on the menu all weekend.
Fighting for Freedom: Black Union Soldiers from Rockbridge, June 14, 7 p.m.
The Rockbridge Historical Society will host a virtual presentation featuring more than 60 men from the county served in 28 regiments in the Civil War, enlisting in 13 states. Some were free before the war while others were enslaved men who escaped to join the fight to end slavery. They included carpenters, farmers, waiters, a blacksmith and a descendant of the Hemings family of Monticello. Cinder Stanton and Larry Spurgeon will discuss their research, and RHS Executive Director Eric Wilson will moderate.
Juneteenth Art Show: Together We Rise, June 3-26
Project Horizon will host its second annual Juneteenth Art Show at Nelson Gallery in Lexington. $2,000 in prizes will be awarded. Submissions from all ages are welcome.
For more on Juneteenth celebrations across Virginia, please visit virginia.org/juneteenthinvirginia.