By Jessica Allen

On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers rode into Galveston, Texas, decrying the end of slavery, some two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation and a few months after General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, thereby ending the Civil War. Junteenth, as the day became known, commemorates the end of slavery, the oldest such celebration in the United States. 

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Juneteenth NYC
Gershwin (Linden) Park
Enter at Linden Boulevard and Vermont Street
Brooklyn, NY 11207
(646) 522-9869

Junteenth NYC is a festival for the whole family, a chance to reconnect with the community, to promote freedom, and to take pride in the tremendous accomplishments of African Americans since the end of slavery. The theme of this year’s celebration in Gershwin (Linden) Park, East New York, is youth empowerment, so many of the activities focus on kids: talent shows with magicians, step teams, and other performers, athletic contests, a kids’ spa, health and wellness screening, and info about educational opportunities. Saturday, June 17, 11 am to 6 p.m., free.  

The 17th Annual Fort Greene Brooklyn Juneteenth Arts Festival
Cuyler Gore Park
Brooklyn, NY 11238
(718) 455-4057

Presented by the Cooperative Culture Collective, the 17th annual Junteenth celebration in Fort Greene promises to enlighten, enrich, energize, and engage. Pride and positivity underlie this festival, as seen by such events as the awards ceremony, which recognizes grassroots groups, community organizations, and individuals for trailblazing and uplifting. Other activities include stilt walking, face painting, spoken word, gospel mimes, line dancing, face painting, African dance, live music, a fashion show, and a tour of key nearby spots on the Underground Railroad. Saturday, June 17, 12 to 6 p.m., free.   

Juneteenth Celebration at the African Burial Ground National Monument
290 Broadway
New York, NY 10007
(212) 637-2019

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In 1991, developers in Lower Manhattan discovered a cemetery that had been used to bury enslaved and free Africans from the 1690s through the 1790s. (In 2003 the remains were reinterred.) Today, the African Burial Ground National Monument, run by the National Park Service, offers visitors a chance to reflect on the relationship between slavery and New York City. The monument will commemorate Juneteenth with a drumming performance, designed to “raise the vibrations of all who attend” through singing, dancing, and healing. Saturday, June 17, 1 to 3 p.m., free.

Juneteenth celebrates when slaves in Texas and several other states did not learn of their freedom until June of 1865. (credit: David Paul/Getty Images)

Living History: Juneteenth at the New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

The DiMenna Children’s History Museum gives the little ones in our lives the opportunity to experience some 350 years of American and New York history through interactive exhibits, games, and characters. (It’s specifically geared toward kids age 8 to 13.) Its Juneteenth celebration features real live historians, dressed in era-appropriate costumes, who’ll share facts, anecdotes, and stories designed to make June 19, 1865, seem as present as June 2017. Relevant, kid-specific activities too. Sunday, June 18, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., $20 for adults, $6 for kids.

GOODFOLK Juneteenth Celebration at Joe’s Pub
425 Lafayette St.
New York, NY 10003
(212) 539-8500

Led by pianist Nnenna Ogwo, the annual Juneteenth celebration at Joe’s Pub offers a carefully curated selection “of all the musics that African-Americans make.” Among the genres you’ll hear are soul, blues, contemporary classical, and jazz performed by luminaries like Tariq Al-Sabir. The evening promises joy and laughter, as well as an opportunity to reflect on the ways in which music tells stories and musicians act as storytellers, transforming truth into works of great beauty. Monday, June 19, doors open at 9 p.m., $25, tickets required.

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