For many across the U.S., Independence Day falls on July 4th. However, across dozens of states, more and more are celebrating another independence day. Juneteenth remains the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. Dating back to 1865, Juneteenth marks the June 19th when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas with the news that the war was over and those enslaved were now finally free. Their freedom represented the last slaves in the South to be freed after the Emancipation Proclamation. To celebrate this momentous day, several cities pack in the celebrations that you can join to appreciate America’s other independence day.
Galveston Juneteenth Celebration: If you are looking to celebrate Juneteenth where it began, you have to head to Galveston, Texas. The Galveston Juneteenth Celebration occupies the month of June for the beach town with several days of festivities. Galveston plans to host its biggest Juneteenth yet to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its beginnings. Visitors can expect to join festivals, picnics, African-American heritage exhibits, reenactments and concerts. Perhaps the highlight of all of the celebrations taking place in Galveston is the annual reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in front of the official Juneteenth monument on June 19th.
Memphis Juneteenth Urban Music Festival: In a lively city like Memphis, it is no wonder that the city throws a spirited Juneteenth Urban Music Festival. With free admission for all, the festival celebrates 22 years this year on historic Beale Street in Downtown Memphis. The event includes music, food trucks, a car show, vendors, a kid zone and plenty of activities raising Juneteenth awareness. The Memphis Juneteenth Urban Music Festival takes place June 19th through June 21st at Robert Church Park.
Buffalo’s Juneteenth Festival: The third largest Juneteenth celebration takes place in Buffalo, New York. Held this year from June 13th through June 14th, the festival kicks off with a parade at Genesee and Moselle Streets. The Juneteenth celebration includes a book fair and free Underground Railroad tours among other activities. With the goal of preserving African American heritage and in its 40th year, Buffalo’s Juneteenth Festival appropriately takes place in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park.
Denver’s Juneteenth Music Festival: While Buffalo’s Juneteenth is one of the largest, Denver’s also packs in the crowds for its Juneteenth Music Festival. The two-day event takes place in the Five Points neighborhood in Denver. The festival lends attendees live performances, art and cultural exhibitions and food vendors. In addition, visitors can expect other activities like an art walk, car show and a parade.
Pic via Flickr – Laura Blanchard