Ways to celebrate Juneteenth in Philadelphia

A group of children promoting the Philadelphia based Lest We forget Slavery Museum participates in the annual Juneteenth parade in Center City in 2018.
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Philadelphia’s newest official holiday has a long, significant history. 

Juneteenth is an annual celebration marking the end of slavery in the United States. The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to ensure all enslaved people be freed. This happened more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. 

The holiday is also known as Freedom-Day or Emancipation Day. In 2019, Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation designating June 19 as Juneteenth National Freedom Day in Pennsylvania and last year, Mayor Jim Kenney followed suit.

Those looking for ways to celebrate locally have plenty of opportunities throughout the City of Brotherly Love.

People will be gathering at 9 a.m. Saturday for a march beginning at 52nd and Haverford Avenue in West Philadelphia. The program will be followed by an art exhibit at Malcolm X Park, at 5100 Pine St.

On Friday, Black Lives Matter Philly is hosting “Jawnteenth” at Malcolm X Park. The event, which will feature food, music and dancing, will begin at 4 p.m.

In Germantown, the 15th annual Juneteenth Festival will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the historic John Johnson House, near the corner of Germantown Avenue and Washington Lane. There will be live music, food trucks, historic reenactments and activities for children.

Philadelphia’s African American Museum will have a full day of outdoor family programming from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, with educational activities, food, vendors and live performances. The museum, where visitors can take in an exhibit looking at the contributions of African Americans in Philadelphia between 1776 and 1876, will be open for free timed visits from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. People wishing to tour the museum can register in advance by going to aampmuseum.org.

The National Constitution Center is offering many ways to celebrate Juneteenth, including online educational resources, free museum admission, and special programs in conjunction with its feature exhibit, Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality. Visit constitutioncenter.org for information.

The Mayor’s Office, on Thursday, will be running “ReJUNEvenation,” an event that will include a percussion ensemble, poetry and other cultural expressions beginning at noon at Love Park.

Another city-sponsored event is the “Brothas Stroll Health Walk,” which is aimed at bringing together Black men and boys. The walk, which will also feature games and music, will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday at Enon Tabernacle Church in the Cedarbrook neighborhood.

On Monday, June 21, at the Navy Yard in South Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Film Society, in conjunction with the African American Museum and WHYY, is holding a drive-in screening of “Tulsa: the Fire and the Forgotten,” a new documentary about the destruction of an area once known as ‘Black Wall Street.’ Registration is required for the movie, which will begin at 9 p.m. Go to welcomeamerica.com.

No parade is planned this year due to the coronavirus, however several of the city’s skyscrapers, Boathouse Row, the Ben Franklin Bridge and other sites will light up in red, black and green, the colors of the Black liberation flag.