From the Mountains to the Coast, Celebrate Juneteenth in North Carolina

Communities across North Carolina will celebrate Juneteenth, the holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in Texas and elsewhere in the South. Here's a selection of 2021 events worth joining.

Juneteenth at the Historic Magnolia House
The Historic Magnolia House, a recommended Green Book site in the Jim Crow era, will celebrate Juneteenth with self-guided tours and shoebox lunches Wednesdays-Saturdays, June 16-30. The visit includes a Juneteenth exhibit focusing on redlining plus a Green Book-era traveler’s toolkit. In addition, a new virtual reality experience will take visitors back in time to see what the Magnolia House interiors might have looked like in the 1950s. Reservations are available at Magnolia House has been restored as an event venue, and the rooms where Ike and Tina Turner, James Brown, Jackie Robinson and others once slept are being readied to resume overnight stays later this year.

N.C. Juneteenth Celebration
Durham draws a special connection to the end of slavery since it was the site of the largest surrender of Confederate forces (on April 26, 1865). Designated in 2009 as North Carolina’s Juneteenth Celebration by the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, the Durham street festival combines a community and family focus with music, food and fun. Daylong activities include performances by national and local acts; vendors selling African and African American clothing, arts and crafts, artifacts and food; and a children’s village with games, face painting, crafts and educational activities. A health fair provides screenings and consultations with local medical professionals, and organizations set up booths to share information about services (such as mentoring, tutoring, substance abuse and jobs) and activities (including camps, after-school programs and athletics). These local connections are designed for community uplift and empowerment.  

Capital City Juneteenth Celebration
With virtual events as bookends, Raleigh’s extended celebration runs June 16-20 and peaks on the 19th with performances, food and speeches at Dorothea Dix Park. First up are a pair of virtual events  ("Juneteenth: A Story of Freedom" from the N.C. Museum of History on June 16 and "Juneteenth: Looking Back While Moving Forward" from N.C. Central University's James E. Shepard Memorial Library in Durham on June 17), then a live June 18 event featuring U.S. Colored Troops re-enactors at the Museum of History. At the State Capitol, the morning of June 19 brings an opportunity to color chalk artist drawings of the Juneteenth flag and line portraits of formerly enslaved people from history, followed by the big event at Dix Park. Historic St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church is the setting for virtual worship services at 8 and 11 a.m. June 20 with music by the St. Augustine’s University choir.

N.C. Museum of Art Juneteenth Weekend
The N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh celebrates Juneteenth with a weekend of music, family activities, films and discussions. Friday (June 18) features a live, in-person outdoor concert with performance ensemble Sweet Honey In The Rock. Saturday (June 19) includes an in-person family story time and activities with Liberation Station, a discussion of “Culture Town: Life in Raleigh's African American Communities” with author Linda Simmons-Henry, and screenings of two critically acclaimed documentaries, "Wilmington on Fire” (about the 1898 “race riot” in the coastal city) and "Mr. SOUL!" The weekend ends with a celebration of Black Music Month with DJ Thoro, live from the Museum Park amphitheater on Sunday (June 20).

The Sounds of Freedom
Manteo native Tshombe Selby, who made his debut as a tenor soloist at Carnegie Hall and now performs at the Metropolitan Opera House, will perform a free concert at the Pea Island Cookhouse Museum on June 19. The museum honors the history of Richard Etheridge, who grew up enslaved on Roanoke Island and became the nation’s first African Keeper in the U.S. Life-Saving Service. The  station he commanded is the only one in the history of the LSS with an all-black crew. The Cookhouse Museum is included on the Outer Banks African American History Trail as well as the newly launched African American Experience of Northeast North 

Juneteenth Week of Freedom
Starting with a June 13 kickoff celebration, the weeklong observance includes a genealogy presentation, a community information fair, a home ownership presentation and Henderson Black Wall Street Bus Tours. The celebration kicks into high gear with a June 18 block party that will honor Henderson native Ben E. King with a new mural, music and an outdoor screening of the Disney-Pixar film “Soul.” A daylong street festival on June 19 ends the celebration on a high note.  

Celebration showcases Black fashion, art, music and culture. Highlights include a Deep Wave Day Party with a vendor marketplace at the Victoria Yards event space; an art installation, "Durag Hall of Fame" and dance performances at the NASCAR Hall of Fame plaza; and a DU After Dark event at Camp North End.

The community will come together June 18-20 to celebrate Black business and Black entrepreneurs in Asheville’s River Arts District. The weekend features a block-style party with vendors, food, performances, a poetry slam, family games, yoga and hip-hop aerobics, and a lip-sync battle and other competitions. The Depot Street Dance Party closes the weekend.

Juneteenth Celebration
The Jonkonnu troupe from Tryon Palace in New Bern heads up the Neuse River to Kinston to perform a celebratory fusion of West African music and dance that arrived in North Carolina aboard slave ships from Jamaica. The Juneteenth Celebration at the African American Music Trail Park will also feature food trucks, artists tables and activities for all ages.

Juneteenth in the Boro
This inaugural event will highlight black commerce, talent and creativity in celebration designed to shed “light on all the beautiful things that brown skin creates.” The event includes a car show, food vendors and a cook-off, hip-hop and R&B performances, and an apparel pop-up.  Held at a park with a playground, Juneteenth in the Boro adds family appeal with bouncy houses and free food for kids.

Juneteenth Festival
Music and spoken word performances and a cultural health and wellness presentation anchor an afternoon celebration at ​Biotech Place in the Innovation Quarter on June 19. Down the street, music and exhibits, games, a youth area and food trucks enliven Bailey Park, where the COVID-19 vaccine will be available and healthy food demos and tastings will take place. Parts of the event will be available as a virtual celebration.

Juneteenth Celebrate Freedom
The town will illuminate the Cary Art Center’s columns in red, yellow and green June 18-20. On June 19, performers and dignitaries will celebrate freedom at an event at Bond Park.

Suzanne Brown
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