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12 events celebrating Juneteenth in Boston

Demonstrators marched from Nubian Square to City Hall to urge Boston City Council.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

Juneteenth, celebrated annually on June 19, commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. It marks the day in 1865 when a Union Army general arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved Black Americans that they were free — 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free,” said Major General Gordon Granger in the order. “This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”


Long celebrated by Black Americans, Juneteenth has drawn broader interest this year in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks, and ongoing protests across the country against police brutality.

Around Boston, an array of events, from rallies to readings, will mark the Juneteenth holiday on Friday:

Songs of Freedom: A Black Music Month Celebration

Noon-10 p.m.

This 10-hour (virtual) music marathon “will celebrate local artists and the essential spaces that welcome their freedom of expression. This is a fundraiser to support our musical family and the reopening of a critical cultural space, Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen.” Live performances will be streamed throughout the day by Black Owned, Valerie Stephens, Pat Loomis, Zeke Martin, Greg Groover Jr., Sympli Whitney, and The Christman Collective, among others. Visit for more details.

Concert with Dzidzor: Freedom as an Act of Practice hosted by the Boston Public Library

12:30-1:30 p.m.

An online event featuring African folklorist, performer, and poet Dzidzor, whose “style of call and response, has re-imagined poetry and story-telling as a way to include the audience in a experience to challenge, inspire and encourage self beyond traditional forms. The performance will be streamed through the BPL’s YouTube page.


Juneteenth Infinity March in Newton

Gather at 1 p.m., march begins at 1:30 p.m., 19 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill

“In order to make the dream of our parents, grandparents, and ancestors a reality, we must start with the youth. It is only through education that we can combat ignorance,” student organizers said in a statement on Facebook. “We want to empower our generation to create an environment of love, understanding and equality.” The march will end at the Newton North High School football field, to be followed by speeches and a moment of silence. Masks are required.

Juneteenth Emancipation Observance

1-2 p.m. and 8-9 p.m.

Presented by the Boston Juneteenth Committee and the National Center for Afro-American Artists, the 10th annual Juneteenth Emancipation Observance will be streamed online on BNN, Facebook and YouTube, and will air on BNN television (Comcast 23, RCN 83, and Verizon 1960). This year’s speaker will be Representative Ayanna Pressley. For more information and registration, visit

Black Lives Matter Rally in Dorchester

2-5 p.m, Town Field Park on Dorchester Avenue

“We are honoring Juneteenth by holding a multi-cultural, lingual, ethnic, and class rally in support of the Black community,” rally organizers noted on the event’s Facebook page. “We advocate for liberation from mass incarceration, over policing, and state-sanctioned violence. Racism is wrong. Police brutality is wrong. Put an end to qualified immunity.” Participants are asked to wear red, green, or black, as well as masks. DotHouse Health will be at the rally to get people signed up for COVID-19 testing, and several speakers are on the bill.


How to Build an Antiracist Movement (an online Boston Globe Op-Talks event)

2-2:45 p.m.

Ibram X. Kendi, director of the new Boston University Center for Antiracist Research and bestselling author of “How to be an Antiracist,” will be in conversation with Boston Globe Editorial Page Editor and author Bina Venkataraman. Sign up for the talk on Zoom at

Juneteenth Community Celebration (held online through the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

4-7 p.m.

“This year, we are taking our eighth annual Juneteenth community celebration online to honor the contributions of Black creatives, scholars, and artists to the City of Boston,” MFA organizers said in a statement. “We wish to commemorate this day with joy and resolve as we strive for justice and liberty in the continued fight for equity.”

The event, which will feature panel discussions, as well as speeches and poems from members of the MFA’s teen programs and a performance by Debo Ray and DJ Where’s Nasty, will be streamed on the MFA’s site and on Facebook and YouTube.

Funk the Police - Juneteenth Edition (hosted by Mass Action Against Police Brutality)

5-8 p.m., Ronan Park, Mt. Ida Street, Dorchester

Organziers are calling this Juneteenth event a “musical speakout” and rally against police brutality and racism, with a special focus on families who have lost loved ones to police violence. The event will raising money to send a delegation to the National Mother’s March in Minneapolis on July 12.


Juneteenth Celebrate Freedom event in Brockton

6-8 p.m., Brockton City Hall

“We stand in solidarity with Black communities and those on the front lines,” organizers posted about the event. “We hope to amplify this message with actionable resources for the local community because it will take all of us looking inward + speaking outward to create change.”

Juneteenth Vigil in Brookline

6 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Florida Ruffin Ridley School, 345 Harvard St., Brookline

“Our 5-point plan: 1) Invest in schools. 2) Invest in mental health treatment. 3) Invest in affordable housing. 4) Commit to immigration reform. 5) Create a police oversight committee,” organizers posted on their event page about this Juneteenth vigil and march. At 6:30 p.m. there will be a brief speech, followed by a march to the Brookline Police Station. Masks are required and organizers request that participants practice social distancing.

Poetry As Protest: Dr. Malcolm Tariq, hosted by the Museum of African American History

7-8:30 p.m.

A night of poetry and conversation on Juneteenth with poet and playwright Malcolm Tariq, who will be in conversation with Camara Brown. Tariq will read from his “Heed the Hollow,” winner of the 2018 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. The online event kicks off a new series called “Poetry As Protest” from the Royall House and Slave Quarters in Medford. Register for the webinar here.


Stop & Frisk: A Juneteenth Poetry Reading, hosted by Porter Square Books

7 p.m.

Porter Square Books will host a virtual Juneteenth poetry reading to celebrate the release of Jabari Asim’s newest poetry collection, “Stop & Frisk: American Poems,” with writer and educator Porsha Olayiwola (”I Shimmer Sometimes, Too”), hosted on Crowdcast. This reading is free and open to all. The event is part of the Porter Square Books Be the Change: Community Action series.

Matt Berg can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @mattberg33.