Things to Do

24 Ways to Commemorate Juneteenth This Weekend

Join in on Saturday's concerts, celebrations, and community gatherings.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user, Fibonacci Blue.

Juneteenth—the annual celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States—happens Saturday, June 19. While DC has recognized Juneteenth as a holiday since 2003, it wasn’t until last year’s anti-police protests that more folks began to learn about the day’s significance. This year, Juneteenth in the District will be marked by several celebrations, both new and long-running, along with rallies and other community events.

Give back: The National Black United Front is hosting its inaugural Juneteenth Day of Service in partnership with Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8C. Organizers and volunteers will gather at 500 Malcolm X Avenue, Southeast at 3 PM to make care packages to give to 100 families in need, as well as clean up the Malcolm X Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue corridors. The event will also feature performances from The Malcolm X Drummers and Dancers and a live DJ. 

Help fight COVID-19:  You can kick off your morning by joining Mayor Muriel Bowser and other community leaders at a DC COVID-19 Community Corps Day of Action. Starting at 9 AM and 11 AM, canvassers will go door-to-door and help DC residents create plans to get vaccinated. If you are interested in volunteering, register here.

Food for the soul: Head to the Brookside Nature Center Harper Homestead (1400 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton) for a lesson on African-American cooking traditions and the significance of soul food. You can register here.

Honor Black women: Join the nutrition-focused group WANDA at its Sisterhood Supper in Oxon Run Park (300 Valley Ave., SE) to honor local food heroes in Wards 7 and 8. You can dine with Ward 7 and 8 residents while sharing recipes and stories from the women in your family. The event, which begins at 4 PM, will also feature a live DJ and performers. Register or share a recipe to go in the Sisterhood Community Cookbook here.

The Kennedy Center’s Turnaround Arts program is hosting its Black Women Breaking Ground event at 8 PM to celebrate Black women in the music industry. The event will feature performances from Grammy Award-winning artists Angélique Kidjo and Estelle, as well as Turnaround Artist Valerie June and Mark G. Meadows and the Movement. Buy tickets here.

The Giving Flowers Project is hosting a photo exhibit at Union Market to highlight the strength and softness of Black women. She Loves Me, a local woman-run flower shop, will give flowers to attendees. The event begins at 11 AM.

Commemorate Black workers: Join ONE DC—a group dedicated to creating racial and economic equity—at its Juneteenth in DC 2021, which also celebrates the grand reopening of the newly renovated Black Workers & Wellness Center (2500 Martin Luther King Junior Ave SE) and commemorates the struggle and dedication of Black workers. You can tour the center and listen to live go-go music and the Black Workers Chorus.

Go-go activism: Long Live GoGo is organizing a Million Moe March. The group will bring a go-go caravan to Black Lives Matter Plaza at 2 PM and march to 14th and U Streets, Northwest—the center of the 1968 riots that followed the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The march will feature performances from go-go bands TOB, Ambition, and N2L.

Ride for the community: Bring out your bikes, boards, scooters, or anything with wheels on it and ride through DC  with DC Protests’ Juneteenth Community Care Ride. Riders will converge at 6 PM at Dupont Circle.

Make some noise: Bang pots and pans with the No New Jails Coalition at their DC Jail Noise Demo to show support to incarcerated Black folks. Demonstrators will gather at 7:30 PM at the Stadium-Armory Metro Station. 

Dance your heart out: Bring your drums, bells, and tambourines to Creative Suitland (4719 Silver Hill Rd., Suitland) to participate in a drum circle led by Docta Yew of Ni Dembaya African Dance & Drum Ensemble. If you forget your instruments, the Juneteenth: Liberate. Create. Celebrate. event will also feature music, local artisan vendors, and an art gallery opening. You can find the full schedule of events and a link to register here.

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Create art: Head to Josiah Henson Museum and Park (11410 Old Georgetown Rd.m Bethesda) at noon to draw on the Freedom Mural at the Freedom Well Chalk Walk. You can even take home your own seed stick station.

Jam out: Dance the day (and night) away with Black Techno Matters at their OUR LOVE: A Juneteenth Celebration event. Starting at 2 PM, there will be a progressive techno party going from Malcolm X Park (16th and W sts., NW) to the Eaton hotel (1201 K St., NW). The event will also feature live sets from techno groups Black Rave Culture and Smoke & Tea. Find the full schedule of events here.

Buy Black: If you’re looking for ways to support the local Black community, there will be many opportunities to buy from Black-owned businesses on Saturday.

Come out to the Anacostia Park Roller Skating Pavilion (1500 Anacostia Dr., SE) for the Juneteenth Pop-Up Shop (For the Culture) at 3 PM. You can buy from Black vendors and dig into plant-based soul food. Register here.

Sip iced tea and coffee at the Black-owned Calabash Tea & Coffee (2701 12th St., NE) as it celebrates its grand reopening at the Anniversary Juneteenth Patio Preview. Guests will receive a “sack-lunch” with an Omega bite, a vegan Jamaican patty, and a bottled Calabash ice tea. You can also buy packs of loose tea blends, tonic sprays, and more. Buy a ticket here.

A parade: Join the city of Annapolis at its inaugural Annapolis Juneteenth Celebration. There will be a parade to kick-off the festivities, along with live music and dance performances across two stages. Find more about events, locations, and registration here.

Soulful movements: Tune into Step Afrika!’s Juneteenth Virtual Celebration on Facebook and YouTube at 8 PM. The stepping company will premiere three works that embody the determination and resilience of the African-American experience. Register here.

Breathe and reflect: Tap into mindfulness and vulnerability with a sound bowl experience and roundtable discussion at SWEAT DC (3232 Georgia Ave., NW). Buy tickets here.

A day out on the lawn: Join the First Baptist Church (450 Orchard St., NW, Vienna) at 11 AM for its Juneteenth Celebration and Liberty Amendments Kick-Off. The event will feature live music, Black-owned businesses, and food trucks, and include a children’s book give away. First Baptist will also host a COVID vaccination clinic during the event.

Head to the Carlyle House Historic Park (121 N. Fairfax St., Alexandria) at noon for a Juneteenth Celebration with the Athanaeum. There will be live music, hands-on activities, art, and poetry readings on the lawn and gardens of the Carlyle House.

The sound of music: The Washington Revels Jubilee Voices will hold a virtual concert with the Alexandria Black History Museum at 2 PM. The ensemble will perform songs that highlight the struggle and perseverance of the African-American community. Register here.

Run and ride: Grab your bike or running shoes and head to the second annual Juneteenth Run & Ride. You can participate in the half-marathon and 10K runs starting at 6:19 AM. Register here.

Learn and remember: Juneteenth is not only a day of celebration, but it is a day of remembrance and learning. These events highlight the DC area’s extensive African-American history.

Join Manumission Tour Company for a guided cultural heritage tour around the streets of Old Town Alexandria. You’ll hear the stories of both enslaved and free African-Americans in one of early America’s main centers for the international and domestic slave trade. Book a tour here.

Tune into a virtual lecture from University of Maryland historian Dr. Christopher Bonner on “Reconstruction and African-American Memory” at 10 AM. You can also watch a demonstration from the Smithsonian Freedmen Bureau Transcription Project, which brings to light stories of the African-American experience in post-Civil War and Reconstruction eras. Sign up here.

Damare Baker
Assistant Editor

Before becoming an assistant editor, Damare Baker started out as an editorial fellow for Washingtonian. She has previously written for Voice of America and The Hill. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, where she studied international relations, Korean, and journalism.