Juneteenth marks the end of slavery in the United States in 1865, celebrated on June 19th by African Americans, and is a new national holiday in 2021, with more than a dozen Juneteenth events, including a national TV special with former President Obama, concerts, film screenings, including Selma, panel discussions, cooking classes and walking tours, and more.
Here is our list of FREE and cheap (nothing over $20) family-friendly Juneteenth throughout the week, updated with NEW events since we published this list first earlier this week.
Registration is required for the in-person events and recommended for the virtual ones.
FYI – In 2020, NY State made Juneteenth an official state holiday, and NYC made it a city and school holiday. President Biden signed into law in June 2021 the new Congressional proclamation making Juneteenth a national holiday, the eleventh national holiday of the calendar year, in between Memorial Day and July 4th.
Juneteenth events are In calendar order so you can plan properly:
Looking for things to see and do in NYC
that are not Juneteenth events?
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a branch of the NYPL in Harlem, has reimagined its annual day-long book festival as a multi-day virtual festival.
Throughout the week, featured authors and books help explore concepts of freedom, culminating in the “Words Like Freedom” event on June 19. This event features authors from across the globe, including Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, Yaba Blay, PhD, and Honorée Fanonne Jeffers–whose works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry “celebrate and interrogate the sweet refrain of freedom’s song in our everyday lives.”
Thursday is devoted to children’s stories, 1pm to 7pm.
- Check the website for full details, as times vary.
Juneteenth Events on Wed., June 16
The Dimenna Children’s History Museum, which is part of the New-York Historical Society, takes you on a virtual field trip to Genesee Country Village & Museum—the largest and most comprehensive living history museum in New York State—to explore how some African American New Yorkers would have celebrated the end of slavery.
Guides will prepare a celebration feast on a wood-burning stove in one of the historic buildings, so you can learn how to make kid-friendly recipes like strawberry pie and sweet tea.
- FREE, Wednesday, June 16, 3pm
- Register here for the Zoom link
Juneteenth Events on Thurs., June 17
Juneteenth Freedom Writing with Fyutch Simmons
Tune in online at www.nypl.org/summer/watch for this program and many more
- Thursday, June 17, 2021, 3:30 – 4 PM
How can dance and rest, mindfulness and music and, yes, even napping invigorate our souls and help us face everyday adversity? How does Black joy and hope exist in proximity to Black pain?
This is the second installment of the New York Times’ new series Black History, Continued. This Juneteenth event welcomes Questlove to discuss his new documentary Summer Of Soul.
Also, Grammy-winning bassist and listener Esperanza Spalding will perform. Artist, community organizer, and educator Dr. Shamell Bell will dance and explore how movement can unlock the joy within.
- Thursday, June 17, 5pm, virtual
Juneteenth Events on Friday, June 18
Museum of the City of New York
An afternoon of song and spoken word reflections celebrating freedom and commemorating the ending of American slavery.
FREE in-person event.
- Friday, June 18, 4pm
Together We Triumph
- Friday, June 18 (9:01-11:00 p.m. EDT),
ABC presents a two-hour special tonight hosted by Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr. and including a one-on-one interview with former President Barack Obama about race, resilience and his book “A Promised Land.” In the Interview, Mr. Obama says:
“We’re not all going to live in a perfect kumbaya society. But we can make it better by working and by reaching out and by assuming the best in each other. And if enough of us do that, we move that boulder up the hill.”
There also are performances by Jimmie Allen, Chloe Bailey (of Chloe x Halle) and Leon Bridges, plus reports and stories by ABC News correspondents about the origins of soul food, the struggles of Black farmers and artists, and more.
After Friday’s live broadcast, Together We Triumph is available the next day on demand and on Hulu.
This is largest Juneteenth celebration in NYC, and this year it’s a three day hybrid festival combining online and in-person events. In 2019, there were 5,000+ in-person attendees, and in 2020, 20,000+ virtual attendees.
Each day has a different theme – Friday is Mind, Body and Soul, Saturday is simply called “Celebration”, and Sunday revolves around kids and families. The live events feature vendors showcasing Black crafts, fashion and food, and everything is FREE to attend.
In honor of NYC and NY State recognition of Juneteenth as a public holiday, the Brooklyn Public Library will be distributing the first-ever, limited edition Black American Library card at the Festival.
- Friday, June 18, 9am to 6pm, Online only
- Saturday, June 19, 9am-6pm, Herbert Von King Park in Brooklyn
- Sunday, June 20, 3pm-9pm, Restoration Plaza
Juneteenth Events Saturday, June 19
This program was created in response to the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, this program explores the history of racial protest in Brooklyn from abolition to today. The story of the ongoing fight against systemic racism is old through the lens of the Black Brooklynites and allies who have acted in solidarity to abolish it.
There will be a 24/7 outdoor, multimedia exhibition featuring projected and physical images and text representing Brooklyn’s long history of racial protest on Brooklyn Public Library’s Center for Brooklyn History, as well as an online exhibition that continues through September.
- Saturday, June 19, 3pm, Center for Brooklyn History, 128 Pierrepont Street
- Through June 30, Brooklyn Public Library (Central Library)
Part of the Restart Stages program at Lincoln Center, this experiential program was conceived by the award-winning poet and artist Carl Hancock Rux and moves attendees around the Lincoln Center campus to “experience the performance unfolding around you in multiple distinct parts.” It begins at Heart Plaza with a musical introduction featuring vocalists Nona Hendryx, Marcelle Lashley and Kimberly Nichole.
They will wear paper dress creations crafted by designer Dianne Smith while standing in the Paul Milstein Pool, symbolizing the river journey taken by abolitionist Harriet Tubman while leading enslaved Americans to freedom.
Next is a musical recitation of a deconstructed National Anthem, remixing the works of Francis Scott Key and James Weldon Johnson, sung from on high by the multidisciplinary artist and vocalist Helga Davis.
The evening ends with a full-length concert by the acclaimed rock and roots musician Toshi Reagon with her band BIGLovely, who will be joined onstage at Damrosch Park by Hendryx, Reid, Lashley, Nichole and Davis.
Free tickets are available through the TodayTix lottery.
- Saturday, June 19, 7pm, Lincoln Center
The Unsung Collective Celebrates The Black Experience
The main floor of the Oculus will host the New York-based orchestra The Unsung Collective, who will perform four classical compositions written by Black composers to celebrate stories of the Black experience.
Director Tyrone Clinton Jr. will lead his ensemble through a classical music performance narrating historical stories that connect to today.
And later in the day, The Oculus will light up in red, black and green to celebrate Black culture.
- FREE, Saturday, June 19, from 1pm to 2pm
- Image courtesy Downtown Alliance
This FREE interactive event contunues the Weeksville Heritage Center’s comprehensive oral history project that launched in 2019.
The event includes food demonstrations, a panel discussion about food deserts and the emergence of community fridges during the pandemic, and an intimate conversation with food historians Tonya Hopkins. Dr. Jessica Harris (of the new Netflix hit High on the Hog) that explores the comfort of Black foodways from throughout the diaspora.
- Saturday, June 19, 12:30-4pm, Weeksville Heritage Center
To mark Juneteenth, the Central Park Conservancy has arranged two days of programming surrounding Seneca Village, which was located on the current park site from West 82nd to 89th Streets and was home to the largest community of free African-American property owners in pre-Civil War NYC.
Conservancy staff will offer in-person and virtual tours of the Seneca Village site throughout the weekend.
The 90-minute in-person tours cost $15 and explore how Seneca Village offered refuge from the crowded conditions and racial discrimination prevalent in NYC at the time, and how the construction of the park resulted in the displacement of its residents through the process of eminent domain.
There will also be a FREE special pop-up with information and family-friendly activities at the Abraham and Joseph Spector Playground.
- Saturday, June 19 and Sunday, June 20; times vary
This performance is a musical event featuring powerful, grounding, original songs written by Anthony and performed through ritual to activate individual and collective liberation in celebration of Juneteenth. It will include a stirring community choir and band.
Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance.
- Saturday, June 19, 8pm, The Shed at Hudson Yards
The Lot Radio is Williamsburg’s independent online radio station, which operates 24/7 from a reclaimed shipping container).
It has teamed up with The Library for the Performing Arts for a special FREE Juneteenth event, during which guest DJs will spin from the Music & Recorded Sound Division’s vast collection of music and spoken word recordings in a live broadcast that celebrates African American culture and that reflects upon the meaning of Black freedom.
- Saturday, June 19, 11:30am-4:30pm, Lincoln Center or online
This socially distanced indoor event (masks are required when not eating or drinking) is hosted by Chinisa S with music by DJ Monday Blue. It will feature comedians Aminah Imani, Alex English, Dave Lester, Jatty Robinson, and To Karen, With Love.
Tickets, appropriately, cost $18.65.
- Saturday, June 19, 6pm, The Bell House, 149 7th Street, Brooklyn
Stick around at the Bell House to see comedians Brandon Collins and Gordon Baker-Bone host the Juneteenth edition of their interactive show where prominent Black historical figures will finally get their due through drunken anecdotes from booked guests. Tickets are $20 in advance ($25 at the door), or you can buy a $10 advanced streaming ticket ($15 day of).
- Saturday, June 19, 9pm, The Bell House, 149 7th Street, Brooklyn
Laurence Fishburne narrates the rebroadcast of this 2012 PBS documentary. “Slavery By Another Name” is a 90-minute documentary that looks at forced labor in post-Civil War America, when blacks were often arrested on, and convicted of, spurious charges, then leased or sold as laborers to various entities. The practice lasted well into the 20th century.
- 8 p.m., Saturday; Check local listings.
Director Ava DuVernay’s historic, Oscar-winning film “Selma” (2014) makes its national TV broadcast debut on CBS, as a special Sunday Night Movie presentation.
David Oyelowo stars as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a story that chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965 when he led thousands of nonviolent demonstrators on a campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of brutal opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement.
- 8 p.m., Sunday, June 20.
See our FREE and Cheap Events Calendar
for more NYC events
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Thursday, June 17, 2021
Friday, June 18, 2021
Saturday, June 19, 2021
Sunday, June 20, 2021
Monday, June 21, 2021
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Thursday, June 24, 2021
Friday, June 25, 2021
Saturday, June 26, 2021
Sunday, June 27, 2021
Monday, June 28, 2021
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
Museum of the City of New York
Herbert Von King Park, Brooklyn
Restoration Plaza, Brooklyn
Times Square (Broadway bet. 43rd & 44th Streets)