How to Celebrate Juneteenth In and Around New York This Weekend

It has been about a year since President Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth—which commemorates the emancipation of slaves in the United States—a federal holiday; and as June 19 approaches, it brings with it all manner of compelling things to watch, listen to, and do. Not sure where to start? From sprawling festivals to TV specials and live musical performances, here are seven thoughtful ways to ring in the holiday weekend across New York City. 

Juneteenth NY Festival

Stretching over three days, this year’s Juneteenth NY Festival kicks off on Friday with a series of virtual panels on “building up health and wealth” within the Black community, led by representatives from Sun River Health, LiveOn NY, New York State of Health, and other leading organizations. In-person events in Brooklyn follow on Saturday and Sunday, among them a Festival Food Market with offerings from Black-owned restaurants, a kids’ basketball clinic hosted by the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Liberty, and a fashion exhibition foregrounding emerging Black talent.

For more information on the weekend’s events, visit here. 

Juneteenth Food Festival

On June 18 and June 19, the Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn hosts the Juneteenth Food Festival, which puts 20 Black food vendors (and their gloriously varied cuisines) into joyful communion. The day also includes a marketplace of Black-owned goods, educational activities, and performances from a lineup of all-Black queer and trans DJs curated by Papi Juice (on Saturday) and the Soul Summit collective (on Sunday).

For more information, visit here.

Schomburg Center Literary Festival

The Schomburg Center Literary Festival returns to Harlem this year with a robust lineup of activities and events, among them a rooftop happy hour on Friday; an opening procession led by the Harambee Dance Company on Saturday morning; and talks with the likes of Roxane Gay, Mecca Jamilah Sullivan, Abiodun Oyewole, and Akwaeke Emezi. Also in the offing are children’s readings, yoga and meditation sessions, writing workshops, and book signings. 

To see the full schedule and register for events, visit here. 

I Dream a Dream That Dreams Back at Me: A Juneteenth Celebration at Lincoln Center

The poet, playwright, and educator Carl Hancock Rux has programmed a suite of engaging events in Manhattan for Juneteeth: Following a wide-ranging conversation about the Emancipation Proclamation and modern-day slavery with Charles M. Blow at Harlem Stage on Thursday, this Sunday Rux presents an immersive light and sound installation at the Park Avenue Armory, drawing on the work of novelist and filmmaker Archer Aymes. Then, that evening, he directs I Dream a Dream in Hearst Plaza, a commission comprising original songs by Gordon Chambers, Vernon Reid and Hendryx, and Lynn Nottage, as well as a “deconstructed National Anthem.” A Silent Disco Dance Party overseen by DJ Belinda Becker caps off the night.

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