June 19, or Juneteenth, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. On that day in 1865, enslaved Africans in Galveston, Texas learned they were free – two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation legally freeing slaves across the country.
Currently, 47 states and the District of Columbia ceremoniously recognize Juneteenth – also known as Freedom Day and Black Independence Day – as a public holiday or celebration of the state. Although not a national holiday, efforts to recognize Juneteenth at the federal level have intensified as nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism have escalated in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman.
Want to celebrate June 19? Here is a list of events happening in the Charlotte area.
Rosa Parks Farmer’s Market opening day (June 15)
3 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Stay informed with news and events impacting Charlotte’s black communities.
African drums, music, entertainment and food samples donated by the Mecklenburg County Health Department will usher in the Juneteenth celebration which kicks off the sixth season of the Rosa Parks Farmers’ Market. Visit the open-air market at its new location, the West Complex in the historic West End. Keep reading.
Juneteenth Festival of the Carolinas (June 17-20)
One of Charlotte’s oldest events in June returns for its 24th year. Several multi-day events will take place in the Plaza Midwood district, home to House of Africa, the originator of the festival.
Highlights include an interactive drum circle, freedom march, fashion show, food, vendors, and other entertainment. Keep reading.
Jam of June 17! (June 18-19)
Multiple locations – The Square, Victoria Yards, NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza
Mix art, entertainment and black history on this immersive two-day celebration. Get moving with interactive dance sessions led by Reba Bowens and Ginga Capoeira, enjoy a hip-hop performance featuring several Charlotte artists and the “Durag Hall of Fame” art installation. Keep reading.
Juneteenth Rock Hill (June 18-19)
The annual event goes virtual for a second year due to Covid. However, viewers can still enjoy the Celebration of Freedom lineup, which includes local artists, poets and musicians broadcast live on Juneteenth Rock Hill’s Facebook and Instagram pages. Keep reading.
Durag Fest (June 19)
Multiple locations – Victoria Yards, NASCAR Hall of Fame, Camp North End
Organizers say this year’s festival is bigger than ever. Dubbed the “Met Gala of Durags,” the fourth annual Durag Fest kicks off with its “Deep Wave Day Party” and Black Vendor Market. Witness the art live with the creation of portraits from the “Durag Hall of Fame” and end the evening at “Adult Swim”. The stage performances serve as the backdrop to the street fashion show, displaying durags that snap up to the back of the neck or down to the soles of the shoes. Observe the most wavy tendrils during the annual wave check. Keep reading.
Ebony Fest (June 19)
Rotary Centennial Pavilion
12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Head out for the third edition of this June 17th celebration in downtown Gastonia to celebrate black culture and support black businesses. Keep reading.
Queen’s City Festival (June 19)
Fran’s Kids Center for boys and girls
12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Expect culture, crafts, food, vendors, and entertainment for the whole family. Keep reading.
Black Joy (June 19)
ZEN, a Creative Studio
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Join artists Alicia McDaniel and Faith Rivers as they put on an energizing exhibit for the mind and psyche. Keep reading.
Black in America (June 19)
Park of the first quarter
An open discussion centered on black youth, organized by the NAACP Charlotte-Mecklenburg branch. See more.
June 19 Drive-Thru Celebration (June 19)
Beatties Ford Road (near LaSalle Street)
3 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Celebrate unity with the historic West End community of Charlotte along the Beatties Ford Corridor. Organizers also continue their fight to end state-sanctioned violence, free black people and end white supremacy. See more.
Charlotte Skyline lights up for Juneteenth (June 19)
For a second year, local activist Brittany Moore is leading efforts to illuminate upscale urban skyscrapers in green, yellow and red (the colors of the Pan-African flag) in honor of Juneteenth. Participating buildings include Bank of America Tower and Corporate center, Duke Energy Center, Truist Center and Barings.