This photograph is from the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, gift of the Scurlock family.
This photograph is from the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, gift of the Scurlock family.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American and History will host a variety of virtual and in-person events and programs highlighting the experiences of African American Juneteenth celebrations.
Also known as Freedom Day, Juneteenth marks the moment in United States’ history—June 19, 1865 — when the remaining 250,000 enslaved African Americans in Confederate states were legally declared free two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. In the century-and-a half since, the Juneteenth holiday represents a time to gather with family and community, honor the present and reflect on shared history and tradition.
“Long celebrated in my family, Juneteenth is an opportunity for friends and loved ones to gather together in fellowship and food, reflecting on the profound contributions of African Americans to our nation’s progress,” said Kevin Young, the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
This year’s commemoration will explore the “sense” of freedom by highlighting the music, food and experiences of African American Juneteenth celebrations. In addition to programs celebrating Juneteenth, the museum will also be displaying the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s original speech from the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The artifact will be on view from June 9 to June 20 in the “A Changing America” exhibition.
“As we celebrate the first anniversary of the Juneteenth federal holiday, we remember and recognize how the Black community continues to make a way out of no way, overcoming trials and celebrating triumphs while honoring the place and price of freedom,” Young said.
Some events planned include:
• Juneteenth Community Day will be held Sunday, June 19. Celebrate the history, art and culture of Juneteenth at NMAAHC with three wonderful community-day events. There will also be craft-making activities taking place from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. All programs are free, but registration is required.
• Storytime: The ABCs of Black History by Rio Cortez will be held Monday, June 20, at 11 a.m. Acclaimed author Rio Cortez will read from her book “The ABCs of Black History.” Using rhyming couplets, Cortez shares uplifting stories with young readers about pivotal events in Black history. The storytime will also include an artmaking activity and book signing. This program is free, but registration is required.
• Juneteenth Soundstage: Alphonso Horne and the Gotham Kings will be held both in-person and virtually on Monday, June 20, at 3 p.m. at the Oprah Winfrey Theater + UStream. Two-time Grammy-nominated trumpeter Alphonso Horne and the Gotham Kings weave together the sounds of New Orleans to demonstrate the history of the trumpet and the story of jazz for an immersive jazz experience for all ages. The band has played at esteemed venues, including the Newport, Aspen and Caramoor jazz festivals; Louis Armstrong House Museum; Jazz at Lincoln Center and many more. This program is free, but registration is required.
• History Alive—Juneteenth: A Soldier’s Story will be held Monday, June 20, at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Visitors can learn how the United States Colored Troops came into being, what the Emancipation Proclamation really did, the significance of Juneteenth and how they affect people today. Living-history performances take place within the museum’s Slavery and Freedom Galleries and are suitable for learning and enjoyment by audiences ages 8 and up.
For more information, visit nmaahc.si.edu/juneteenth or call 202-633-1000.
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