Juneteenth – sometimes known as Emancipation Day – commemorates the end of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865, when thousands of enslaved individuals were finally freed in Galveston, Texas. Occurring two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, the day has long been celebrated by African American communities and individuals all over the United States – and this week the Senate unanimously passed a resolution to make it a national holiday. Many Rhode Island organizations are honoring Juneteenth with celebrations and educational opportunities. Here are a few ways to learn about and experience the day.
The 3rd Annual Juneteenth Celebration at Roger Williams Park in Providence is a free event featuring live music by recording artist Raiche, a DJ, vendors, and more on Saturday from 12-8pm. Juneteenth RI’s mission centers around celebrating African American liberation and accomplishments.
Providence will commemorate the installation of the new All Black Lives Matter Street Mural on June 20 with a ribbon cutting and celebration kicking off at 4pm organized by PVDFest. The mural was created by local artists and members of the community over the past year on Washington Street near Burnside Park.
Learn about the period of unfreedom and inequality faced by African Americans in our country’s early and recent history by tuning into the Newport Middle Passage Project’s virtual lecture, “African American Unfreedom 1877-1960s” on June 16 at 6:30pm. This talk is the first of their Summer 2021 Speaker Series on Black history and arts topics.
Kin Southern Table and Bar will put on a Juneteenth Block Party starting at 12pm on Saturday. This Downcity restaurant on Washington Street is known for their classic Southern and Soul food menu, so you can expect delicious food along with music and fun.
Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE) will host a Juneteenth Celebration from 1-3pm full of food, performances, poetry, supervised fun for kids, and more in the parking lot behind their building in Providence. Mask-wearing and COVID safety distance protocols will be in place.
As part of their Writing My Own Story: Race, Place, and Embodying Space series, Brown Center for Students of Color and the Global Brown Center host a Juneteenth Storytelling event with Rhode Island Black Storytellers on June 16 from 6-7:30pm. The event is free and open to the public.
Join the Sankofa Community Connection and the Newport Art Museum in honoring the Liberty Tree at William Ellery Park this Juneteenth with performances by RI Black Storytellers, artists, and musicians. Events begin at Newport City Hall before proceeding to the Liberty Tree, a site that held spiritual significance for the Black slave population in colonial Newport.
In Pawtucket, Mixed Magic Theatre celebrates Juneteenth on Saturday for an in-person, limited seating pay-what-you-can event at 3pm. Plus, their monthly (RI)SE TO BLACK virtual theater series showcasing emerging and established BIPOC talent will take place Friday with performances celebrating fathers.
Linden Place in Bristol will unveil their Rhode Island Slave Medallion on June 19 at 12pm in a ceremony with local speakers, African dancers, a land acknowledgement, and live music. The RI Slave Medallion project is an awareness initiative that places medallions on sites connected to the history of slavery in our state. Space is limited so RSVP online.