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Juneteenth 2021: Events, Festivals to Celebrate in DC, Maryland, Virginia

NBC Washington D.C. logo NBC Washington D.C. 6/16/2021 Sophia Barnes and Sophia Solano
a group of people standing around a fire: TOPSHOT – Demonstrators play in a cloud of washable color powder during a Juneteenth march and rally in Washington, DC, on June 19, 2020. – The US marks the end of slavery by celebrating Juneteenth, with the annual unofficial holiday taking on renewed significance as millions of Americans confront the nation’s living legacy of racial injustice. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images) © AFP via Getty Images

TOPSHOT – Demonstrators play in a cloud of washable color powder during a Juneteenth march and rally in Washington, DC, on June 19, 2020. – The US marks the end of slavery by celebrating Juneteenth, with the annual unofficial holiday taking on renewed significance as millions of Americans confront the nation’s living legacy of racial injustice. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

On June 19, 1865, more than 250,000 Black people who were enslaved in Texas finally learned they were freed under the Emancipation Act.

It took more than two years for Union soldiers to reach Galveston Bay and ring the bell of freedom in the westernmost area of Confederate territory.

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"Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day," the National Museum of African American History and Culture says.

Is Juneteenth a federal holiday in 2021?

The Senate on Tuesday approved legislation that would make it a federal holiday. It's expected to pass the U.S. House and go to President Joe Biden's desk.

Juneteenth is now celebrated in most states and D.C. annually on June 19. It's a paid state holiday in Virginia and a commemorative holiday the District and Maryland.

Washington, D.C. Juneteenth Events

Juneteenth Lighting for Freedom and Justice

The National Cathedral, 3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, D.C. 

June 15 to June 19

The Washington National Cathedral will be lit to recognize the celebration of Juneteenth from June 15 to 19 from 9 p.m. to sunrise.

Moechella Juneteenth Weekend and Unity Fest

2700 Martin Luther King Ave SE, D.C.

All weekend

Moechella, a group dedicated to preserving D.C.'s legacy of go-go music and sharing its importance in Black history, is hosting a Juneteenth weekend on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Join Long Live GoGo's newsletter for information about rallies.

On Friday, there will be a Rock the Block Party at Audi Field that includes free workouts to live go-go music from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

On Saturday, join the Million MOE March for Equity and Justice starting at Black Lives Matter Plaza to U Street. The march will feature Top Band, Ambition Band and N2L.

On Sunday from noon to 8 p.m., join Moechella's Unity Fest at Gateway Pavilion for a day of free music on two stages featuring Junkyard, EU feat Sugar Bear, TOB, Ambition, ABM and MTM. There will be vendors, food trucks and a kids' haven.

What Is Black Art Exhibition

The Eaton DC, 1201 K Street NW, DC

Exhibit available June 25 to July 9

BlkArthouse is hosting artworks by 19 Black artists from around the world at the Eaton Hotel. You can join the opening reception Friday, June 25, at 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets start at $25.

You can visit "What is Black Art?" by walking in until June 27 or by appointment from June 28 to July 9.

ONE DC Juneteenth in DC

2500 Martin Luther King Junior Avenue SE, Washington, D.C.

June 19, 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.

ONE DC will celebrate Juneteenth and the reopening of their Black Workers and Wellness Center, a community-run space in Anacostia used to organize for racial and economic justice. Their Juneteenth celebration will feature tours of the building, live music by local artists, food vendors, mutual aid and community outreach booths and more.You can visit the Black Workers and Wellness Center between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. RSVP here.

The Second Annual Juneteenth Ride and Run

804 N St NW, Washington, D.C.

June 19 and 20

This half marathon will take participants along the entire Civil War Defenses of Washington Trail. Runners can choose two distance options. To celebrate Juneteenth, runners can join the 10K or half-marathon.

Bikers can ride 6.19 miles in solidarity to represent the date, June 19th. Following the 6.19 group ride, riders have the option of riding longer distances by joining either the 18-mile group or the 65-mile group. Together, these distances represent 1865, the year the final enslaved people learned of abolition.

Join this event early Saturday or Sunday morning at Fort Stanton Park. Admission is free but registration is required prior to the event.

Juneteenth Jubilee Homecoming

1455 Pennsylvania Ave Washington, D.C.

June 20, noon

This march sponsored by Juneteenth Jubilee is an event for Black conservative candidates and their supporters. It begins at 12 p.m. at Freedom Plaza. Registration is required.

Maryland Juneteenth Events

Prince George’s County Juneteenth Hybrid Festival

Virtual and in-person events at various locations

June 14-19

The Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation is hosting a virtual art exhibition, panel discussions and in-person celebrations at the Montpelier Arts Center, Ridgeley Rosenwald School and Oxon Hill Manor. Events are free but some require registration. 

Check out these events from June 14 to June 19.

City of Laurel Juneteenth Celebration

8103 Sandy Spring Rd, Laurel, Maryland

June 19

The City of Laurel is hosting guest speakers, the Malcolm X Drummers and poetry readings to celebrate Juneteenth. You can join at the Council Chambers of the Laurel Municipal Center at 12 p.m. The Juneteenth Program can be watched live on the city’s Facebook page.

Northern Virginia Juneteenth Events

Outdoor Juneteenth Musical Celebration

711 Princess Street Alexandria, Virginia

June 17, 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. 

Part of Classical Movement’s Sounds of Hope and Harmony series, this outdoor musical celebration of Juneteenth features singers, dancers, pianists and speeches at The Rectory. 

The concerts are at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $42.

"Tell Me Your Name" Tour at Carlyle House121 N Fairfax St, Alexandria, Virginia

June 18 

The Carlyle House Historic Park staff is hosting a tour focusing on the experiences of the enslaved community at Carlyle House and his plantations in Alexandria. The guided tour will explore the historical context of slavery in 18th century Alexandria and the importance of ongoing research efforts to connect with descendants. Reservations are required as space is limited. COVID procedures, including masking and social distancing, will be in place during this tour. 

Tickets are $10. You can visit this tour at the Carlyle House on June 18 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Juneteenth Celebration at First Baptist Church450 Orchard Street NW, Vienna, Virginia

June 19, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This celebration will include live music, kids’ performers, civic organizations, food trucks and a kids’ book giveaway. There will also be craft vendors with a focus on Black-owned businesses. First Baptist Church will hold a COVID-19 vaccination clinic during the event.

Juneteenth Celebration at Ida Lee Park60 Ida Lee Dr NW, Leesburg, Virginia

June 19, noon to 6 p.m.

Created by the “BURG” Family Reunion Club, this event at Ida Lee Park in Leesburg will include guest speakers, musical acts including the Chuck Brown Band, food, craft beverages and more. 

This event is free and open to the public.

Juneteenth Cel-liberation in Culpeper

N Blue Ridge Ave, Culpeper, Virginia

June 19, 4-8 p.m.

This event in historic Culpeper will celebrate and unify the Black community. It will feature a DJ, moonbounce, water activities, a basketball tournament, community raffle, giveaways and more. 

You can join the celebration between 4 and 8 p.m. at Yowell Meadow Park.

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