In July 2020, Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill into law, adding Juneteenth Independence Day to the list of official state holidays. It became a federal holiday the following year. But June 19 has been recognized as a day of celebration since 1865. It marks the date enslaved Black people in Texas were told they were free by Union General Gordon Granger — more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation — and has since commemorated the end of slavery in America.
This year, the public holiday will be observed on Monday, June 20. From galas to poetry slams, these events across Massachusetts have something for every age — whether you want learn something new, remember history and those who came before us, or just go out and dance. Here are 14 ideas for how you can celebrate this Juneteenth in Greater Boston.
BLACK OWNED BOS. @ BOW MARKET Start your Juneteenth celebration with a fresh air-filled trip to Bow Market in Union Square. Shop at a small business bazaar hosted by Black Owned Bos. while enjoying DJ sets and live performances, a live art showcase, and food and drink specials. June 16, 4-9 p.m., free, 1 Bow Market Way, Somerville. eventbrite.com
JUNETEENTH BOSTON 2022 Juneteenth Boston and the Nubian Square Foundation will host a three-day celebration, starting with a 1.6-mile March to Freedom from the Melnea A. Cass Recreational Complex to Roxbury’s Nubian Square. The next day, head to South Boston for the family-friendly Juneteenth Carson Beach Day. Finally, swap your swim trunks for something stylish and join the Juneteenth Royalty Gala, showcasing the celebration’s theme of “radically reclaiming Black royalty.” March to Freedom: June 17, 3-5 p.m., free, 120 M.L.K. Jr. Blvd. Juneteenth Carson Beach Day: June 18, 1-7 p.m., free, 165 J Day Blvd. Juneteenth Royalty Gala: June 19, 7 p.m.-midnight, tickets start at $45, 2300 Washington St. eventbrite.com.
A HYDE PARK CELEBRATION Enjoy a robust roster of dance and singing performances, vendors, and speakers, including Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. Be sure to stop by the Field Program, which features several free activities, including a group paint session, dance classics, storytelling, and face painting. Don’t leave without a free sample of celebrity-inspired ice cream — like Mint Chocolate Chance, named for Chance the Rapper, or Change the Whirled, made in partnership with Colin Kaepernick — from the Ben and Jerry’s truck. June 18, 10:50 a.m.-2:30 p.m., free, 1015 Truman Parkway. eventbrite.com
J IS FOR JUNETEENTH Racial justice educators Little Uprisings and the Boston Public Library’s Grove Hall Branch will present an interactive and musical educational experience on Black history. Kids ages 6-10 can create self-inspired puppets as they listen to Little Uprisings director and founder Tanya Nixon-Silberg read from Rio Cortez’s “The A.B.C.s of Black History.” June 18, 12:30-1:30 p.m., free, 41 Geneva Ave. bpl.bibliocommons.com.
JUNETEENTH SLAM Join author, poet, and antiracism educator DiDi Delgado to get lost in the rhymes of eight competing poets as they battle it out for a $1,500 top prize. This is a hybrid event, with a dance party featuring DJ TROY Frost at the Nubian Gallery, or join the slam from the sofa, through the livestream via the event and Delgado’s Facebook pages. June 18, 7:30 p.m., free, hybrid, 2164 Washington St. eventbrite.com.
JUNETEENTH AT THE ICA Get immersed in art at the Institute of Contemporary Art, which offers free admission all day Sunday. Check out BIPOC-centered exhibits such as Roxbury’s Napoleon Jones-Henderson’s “I Am As I Am—A Man,” then hop over to the ICA Watershed in East Boston, which is always free. June 19, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., free, 25 Harbor Shore Drive. icaboston.org.
JUNETEENTH READING OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS The New Art Center presents a performance of Frederick Douglass’s “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” as part of Mass Humanities’ Reading Frederick Douglass Together program. Activities for kids and food trucks, including Haitian delights from Gourmet Kreyol and all-natural ice cream from Tipping Cow, will be available on-site. June 19, noon-4 p.m., free, 457 Walnut St., Newton. newartcenter.org
THE B.L.A.C. PROJECT 2022 JUNETEENTH CELEBRATION With a focus on uplifting and empowering underserved communities, the Black Literary and Arts Collaborative Project’s inaugural Juneteenth celebration will kick off at Legacy Place. The day of family-centered activities includes free Plant & Paint workshops, reading circles, and a free book fair. June 19, noon-5 p.m., free, 680 Legacy Place, Dedham. theblacproject.org/event-details/2022-juneteenth-celebration
DIY JUNETEENTH FLAG ART WITH PEM Invite your family to explore their creative side at the Peabody Essex Museum, where art lovers can create their own Juneteenth flag at this drop-in event. Sponges and paint will be supplied by the museum. June 19-20, 1-3 p.m., free with museum admission, 161 Essex St., Salem. pem.org
FENWAY PARK’S JUNETEENTH CELEBRATION Stop by Fenway Park when the Sox take on the Cardinals and join a celebration for Juneteenth. Ticket holders receive a special Red Sox jersey featuring the Juneteenth flag and are then invited to stick around on Jersey Street for a night of music and entertainment. June 19, 1:35 p.m., ticket prices vary, 4 Jersey St. mlb.com
‘JUBILEE, JUNETEENTH AND THE THIRTEENTH’ AT LONGFELLOW HOUSE The historic former home of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and George Washington’s headquarters during the Siege of Boston will host an outdoor screening of “Jubilee, Juneteenth and the Thirteenth.” The documentary, produced by Museum of African American History Boston and Nantucket, centers on the influential roles played by Black Americans in Massachusetts through the abolition of slavery. Get there early for a reading from #Pop-Up Poetry, and don’t forget to bring your own lawn chair, blanket, and picnic, if you please. June 19, 7-9:30 p.m., free, 105 Brattle St., Cambridge. nps.gov
MFA BOSTON’S JUNETEENTH OPEN HOUSE In its 10th annual Juneteenth celebration, the Museum of Fine Arts will offer free admission to all Massachusetts residents, plus free access to special exhibits like J.M.W. Turner’s “Turner’s Modern World.” Attendees can also drop into other activities and entertainment, including a spotlight talk with writer and curator Chenoa Baker and “The Most Estranged Fruits,” a multidisciplinary symposium and performance honoring Black resistance, presented by Artist Initiative for Revolution lead organizer Danny Rivera. June 20, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., free, 465 Huntington Ave. mfa.org/event/open-house/juneteenth
ALPHONSO HORNE AND THE GOTHAM KINGS The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture will host a virtual concert from Grammy-nominated trumpet player Alphonso Horne in celebration of Juneteenth. Horne and the Gotham Kings will showcase the sounds of New Orleans — home of jazz greats like Louis Armstrong, Terence Blanchard, and Branford Marsalis — in an accessible musical experience for all ages. June 20, 3-4 p.m., free, virtual. nmaahc.si.edu
ANNETTE GORDON-REED ON JUNETEENTH Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Annette Gordon-Reed’s 2021 book “On Juneteenth” chronicles the story of Juneteenth from its origins in Texas to Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and beyond, focusing on the Lone Star State in particular. In this virtual event, Gordon-Reed — Harvard Law School’s Carl M. Loeb University Professor — and Dartmouth professor Lisa Baldez will discuss Gordon-Reed’s research process, the history of Juneteeth’s recognition, and how her personal history and experiences impacted the book. June 20, 6-7 p.m., free, virtual. bpl.bibliocommons.com
Sam Trottenberg can be reached at email@example.com.