The city’s first and only Juneteenth Mural will be unveiled this weekend

Juneteenth Mural in Philadelphia
Absolute Equality Juneteenth Mural

This Saturday marks a special occasion for the City of Philadelphia. On June 17, Philly’s first and only Juneteenth Mural will be unveiled during the 17th Annual Philadelphia Juneteenth Festival, which takes place in Germantown.

The reveal will take place on that date at 2 p.m., and Philadelphians will be able to see the 1,100 sq. ft. artwork designed by Custom Arts Studio’s Creative Director Keisha Whatley, when it’s installed at the Germantown ArtHaus, located at 6228 Germantown Avenue. The venue was co-founded by Whatley, and it sits across the street from the Johnson House, a historic stop on the Underground Railroad.

“Being next to the Johnson House, and all of the other historical landmarks in Germantown made it a real ‘no brainer’ to install the mural on the ArtHaus wall. The mural is in service to the community and the city,” said Whatley in a statement.

The artist also noted that the building was constructed in the 1860s — a time when it was still legal for a human being to own other human beings. “I look at the beams that form the structure of the building and remember that these planks of wood were possibly from trees that enslaved humans ran through to get to freedom.”

As a release states, Whatley also said that a mural about the release from slavery brings up obvious iconography: chains, whipping poles, picking cotton, pain, etc. It was important that the images and story of the mural start at a time prior to the colonization of Africa. “If we are going to tell the story, let’s be sure to tell the whole story,” the artist finishes.

The mural will tell a story and showcase five levels spanning different themes, mainly focusing on birth, brokenness, healing and transformation. The current levels include African pre-history and royalty: Pre-Colonial, Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade/ US slavery, and Juneteenth: Freedom, Family, a Future. Two levels will also be completed in 2024: The Struggle for Absolute Equality: Police brutality, racism, protests, and, A Future of Absolute Equality Realized.

When the mural is officially revealed on the 17th, the celebration will include the festival’s Colored Troop Re-enactors, dance and drum performances, interactive art stations, all of which is in conjunction with the national Absolute Equality-Juneteenth Mural Project, which according to the release, originated in Galveston, TX (the birthplace of Juneteenth) in 2021 and has expanded to include large-scale murals in other cities, including Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Shreveport and now Philadelphia.

The mural came from the work of community paint days with nearly three dozen volunteers, local artists and more than 400 students from the nearby Hill-Freedman World Academy. Sponsorship for this particular project came from Mural Arts Philadelphia and Capital One Café with the dedication celebration sponsored by a grant from Voices Underground.

“As an Indigenous (Leni-Lenape and Nanticoke) African American, it is a true honor to celebrate the holiday, the sacrifices and the spirit of excellence that our forefathers and grandmothers embodied for us to even be here today,” adds Whatley.

For more information on the artwork and the artist, visit