Over the past few years, Juneteenth has finally become a widely known holiday.
Although the black community has always celebrated with barbecues and house parties, now cities and museums that previously did not recognize the celebration are hosting all-out festivals.
June 19 commemorates the day in 1865 when news of the abolition of slavery reached Galveston, Texas, two years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Galveston’s freed people broke in celebrations that day. In 2020, Governor Phil Murphy officially made Juneteenth a holiday.
From art galleries to concerts to sip-and-paint parties, here are the local June 16 events you should know about.
Black-owned businesses will be celebrated at Bloomfield’s 2nd Annual June 19 Celebration, ranging from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on June 18. Throughout the day, visitors will participate in live inspirational services, dance lessons and musical performances. Area hairdressers will pay tribute to Madame CJ Walker in The Giveback Hair Show. You can find this festival between Bloomfield and Glenwood Avenues and Lackawanna. Head to the parking lot at Conger St. or the parking lot above Food Town for free parking.
More info: bloomfieldtwpnj.com.
A huge Juneteenth party is coming to American Dream Mall (1 American Dream Way). Founded by Jersey natives Isaiah Thomas, Stevens Germain and Jola Babalola, the festival is expected to draw thousands with musical performances, games, black-owned vendors and more. You must be 21 or older to attend. It will take place outside of American Dream and will take place from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. June 19. General admission is $25.
More information: juneteenth-nj.com.
City of Jersey
The African Cultural Arts Family Festival will run from 1 to 7 p.m. June 18 at Berry Lane Park in Jersey City (1000 Garfield Ave.). Fill your day browsing the vendors’ wares or munching on food court delicacies. Expect live music and kids’ activities.
More information: jerseycityculture.org/african-cultural-arts-family-festival-saturday-june-18th.
Explore works by black artists and photographers at URE Media’s Juneteenth Gallery from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. June 18 (140 Sip Avenue). Sellers will see their work displayed and available for purchase. The event is BYOB and includes live music. Participants must be at least 21 years old and wear black, red or green. Tickets are $5.
More information: eventbrite.com/e/juneteenth-gallery-party-tickets.
A Paint and Sip will take place at Spiotta Park (20-32 Village Plaza) from 5 to 7 p.m. June 17. What you create during the Guided Outdoor Painting Event will be used in the Juneteenth Community Art Project. Each entrant will receive a 12 x 12 inch board to use as a single pixel in a larger image. All art supplies will be provided, but we encourage you to bring your own refreshments. Register to participate at southorange.org; space is limited to 25 people. However, you may bring your own supplies to the park for painting.
Another celebration, Downtown After Sundown, will come to Spiotta Park from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on June 18.
The unveiling of the Juneteenth Community Art Project will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. June 19 in the lobby of the South Orange Performing Art Center (1 SOPAC Way). The Dr. Barnes Trio will perform and light refreshments will be served.
More information: southorange.org/833/Juneteenth-Celebrations.
MAPSO will host a festival of 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. June 18 at Memorial Park (580 Valley Street). Readings and performances by Ras Heru, Donyah Michelle, Rachelle Parker, SOMA Justice, Jané, Autumn Jones and many others are on the program. A fireworks display will close the evening.
More information: https://maplewoodvillagenj.com/calendar/juneteenth-in-memorial-park.
Head to the Newark Museum of Art for a June 19 outdoor festival honoring Harriet Tubman from noon to 5 p.m. on June 18. Guests will receive the decorated ceramic tiles which will then be used to create the Harriet Tubman Monument in Washington Park.
Jacari Harris, executive director of the George Floyd Foundation, will speak, and performances by black artists and dancers, as well as crafts and activities, are planned throughout the day. Admission to the museum is free on this day. The festivities will take place outdoors in Washington Park (soon to be renamed Harriet Tubman Square), across from the NMOA (49 Washington St., Newark).
More information: newarkmuseumart.org.
A pre-Juneteenth R&B skate party will take place from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. June 15 at the Branch Brook Park Roller Skating Center (7th Avenue). The music will be provided by DJ Mustafah and DJ KHI. This event is open to people over the age of 18. An advanced ticket is $30 and day admission is $35.
More information: eventbrite.com/e/pre-juneteenth-rb-skate-party-tickets.
The Teaneck Public Library (840 Teaneck Road) will host a free June 16 celebration for babies, toddlers, and young elementary school children from 4:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. June 17. It will take place in the Children’s Reading Garden and will include a story, crafts and snack with Seleene Lewis-Wong.
More information: teanecklibrary.org.
A silent walk from Larch and North streets to the Pomander Walk Cemetery will begin at 8:45 a.m. June 18. The area was used as a cemetery by Native Americans before the arrival of European settlers. African slaves who worked on New Jersey farms were later buried there.
At noon, a June 19 Flag Raising Ceremony will be held at Milton A. Votee Park on Palisade Avenue.
More information: teanecknj.gov/events/69672.
Jacquelyn Graham-Williams, a gospel, soul and jazz singer, will headline a Juneteenth concert at Tierney’s Tavern (138 Valley Road) on June 19. She will be joined by musicians Gail Campbell, Aaron Williams, Elder Linett Andrews & the SPBC Gospel Band and a jazz quartet. Tickets are $20, but are free for fathers, as the event takes place on Father’s Day. Doors open at 1 p.m. and the show starts at 2 p.m.
More information: eventbrite.com/e/juneteenth-with-jaqueen-friends-on-fathers-day-tickets.
Biagio’s Ristorante (299 Paramus Road) will present a pop-up brunch of 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. June 19. In addition to celebrating Juneteenth, the event is being held as a 40th birthday party for locals Lenny the Barber and Ron Fasion. Event organizer Blacktie Steph will also be in attendance. Music will be provided by DJ Young Fresh and DJ Ray-Z. A full buffet brunch is included.
General admission is $40 and includes a buffet brunch. VIP admission is $75 per person and includes a table that seats four with an additional minimum of two bottles per table.
More information: eventbrite.com/e/pop-up-brunch-series-fathers-dayjuneteenth-edition-tickets.
The NAACP Bayonne branch will host a festival of 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. June 18 in G. Thomas DiDomenico Park (375-409 Avenue A). There will be shows, food trucks, vendors, giveaways and a 50/50 raffle. A classic Juneteenth basketball game begins at 3 p.m. Meet at Mr. Cee’s (17 East 21st St.) from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. for the after-party.
More information: bayonnenj.org/News/View/10228/naacp-juneteenth-celebration-event.
Elevate Hackensack will host the city’s Juneteenth Festival from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 18 at Carver Park (294 2d St.). There will be scholarships, live performances, food trucks, face painting and speeches by public figures.
More information: hackensack.org/events.
Rebecca King is a food writer for NorthJersey.com. For more on where to dine and drink, please register today and sign up for our North Jersey Eats newsletter.