St. Louis area celebrates Black freedom with Juneteenth events

Juneteenth image

Juneteenth is observed annually on June 19 to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” – Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, General Orders Number 3, Headquarters District of Texas, Galveston, June 19, 1865

With Juneteenth coming this weekend, it’s time to party like it’s 1865.

Juneteenth, also called Black Independence Day or Freedom Day, is observed annually on June 19 to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. Considered the longest-running African American holiday, Juneteenth began in 1866 – one year after enslaved people in Texas were informed of their emancipation by the Union army. 

The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln, granted freedom to enslaved people on Jan. 1, 1863. However, news of emancipation did not reach many until years later. Formerly enslaved people chose the date June 19 – a combination of June and nineteenth – because it marks the first known collective celebration of freedom.

In the past year, Juneteenth was designated an official holiday by St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Clair County, giving employees the day off and closing public offices. Because Juneteenth falls on a Saturday this year, city and county offices will be closed on Friday.

The University of Missouri–St. Louis’ Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has listed several local activities that celebrate Juneteenth:

Missouri Historical Society 2021 Juneteenth Celebration will be held throughout the month of June with virtual and  in-person activities.

Juneteenth Celebration at The Field House Museum will host Julius B. Anthony, President of St. Louis Black Authors of Children’s Literature, and Linda M. Nance, Founding President of The Annie Malone Historical Society.

Juneteenth Freedom Festival in East St. Louis, Illinois, will host a motorcade, vendors, music, kids activities, a walk of remembrance and a flag-raising ceremony at City Hall.

2021 Juneteenth Community Ride is a guided group bicycle ride with live performances from area musicians, historians and storytellers. It will depart from Tandy Recreation Center at 4206 Kennerly Ave. at 10 a.m.

Juneteenth Havdalah W/ MoHo STL will be sharing poems, songs and prayers from Black authors around the bonfire. Themes include freedom, resistance, power, strength – or whatever speaks to the themes of Juneteenth.

Juneteenth Community Celebration-Emerson YMCA will have vendors, music, dance, drumming and stilt-walkers as they celebrate the theme “Breaking Barriers.”

Additional activities include:

Juneteenth Cookout 2021 will take place at 4 p.m. at Fairground Park in St. Louis. The free event will include activities for kids, live music and DJs, Black-owned vendors, barbecue and educational activities. 

Juneteenth at City Foundry STL is a free outdoor event from noon to 5 p.m. at City Foundry. The event will include educational opportunities from WePower, interactive sports experiences, food and beverage vendors, dance performances, a yoga session from The Collective STL and a live DJ set. 

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