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Celebrating Juneteenth in Boston

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Arts and Culture

Learn more about how the City of Boston is honoring the anniversary of the day in 1865 when all enslaved people had been informed that they were free.

Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 that Union soldiers, led by General Gordon Granger, reached Galveston, Texas. They announced to the state that the Civil War was over and that all enslaved persons had been declared free.

Although the Emancipation Proclamation had become official over two years prior, the institution of slavery remained untouched in areas beyond Union control. In taking control over the state, the Union effectively liberated the remaining slaves in Texas. They also ended this specific form of slavery in America.

For the first time, the City of Boston will officially observe Juneteenth as a state holiday on June 21, 2021, as allowed by the Commonwealth’s order issued in 2020. Juneteenth is a day to gather with loved ones, celebrate Black lives, and reflect and recognize the struggle for liberation in America. 

Learn more about the history of Juneteenth

Juneteenth events in Boston

Virtual book talk: 'On Juneteenth'
Thursday, June 17, 2021, from 6 - 7 p.m.
Boston Athenaeum is hosting a virtual conversation book talk with Annette Gordon-Reed, the author of, "On Juneteenth".
One Night in Boston
Friday, June 18, 2021 from 6:30-11:30 p.m.
This event will serve as the inaugural launch of an annual Juneteenth collaboration among several organizations. It will include musical performances and a film premiere.
'Miss Juneteenth' Film Screening
Friday, June 18, 2021, from 8 -10:30 p.m.
Join the Loring Greenough House this summer for a series of outdoor movies shown on the Loring Greenough House Lawn.
Boston Public Library Juneteenth Celebration
Friday, June 18, 2021, from 3 - 3:30 p.m.
Join Librarian Maija for a story and a treat to celebrate Juneteenth. Juneteenth was long celebrated as a regional holiday but now is being celebrated across the country and as an official holiday right here in Boston.
Museum of Fine Arts Boston’s Juneteenth Community Celebration
Saturday, June 19, 2021, from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
The MFA is hosting a full day of activities and programs to celebrate Juneteenth and honor the contributions of Black artists, scholars, and creative voices to the City of Boston.
Community Music Center of Boston's Juneteenth Ensembles Concert
Saturday, June 19, at 6 p.m.
To celebrate Juneteenth, Community Music Center of Boston's ensemble concert on YouTube will feature work from Black composers past and present, like Adolphus Hailstork, Jordyn Davis, and Thomas Greene Wiggins.
Interrogating Juneteenth: History as a Teacher
Saturday, June 19, 2021, at 11 a.m.
The Boston Juneteenth Committee and the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists presents the 11th Annual Juneteenth Emancipation Observance. This is a virtual event that will air on BNN and be livestreamed online.
Juneteenth: Opera in the Key of Freedom
Saturday, June 19, 2021, at 12:30 p.m.
This virtual streaming presentation by North End Music and Performing Arts Center will celebrate the holiday of Juneteenth through a variety of music from Black Composers across three centuries.
Black Feminisms Part I: Freedom Fête, Juneteenth Virtual Party
Saturday, June 19, 2021, from 1 - 5 p.m.
Join deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum for Freedom Fête: A Virtual Juneteenth Celebration. This virtual dance party explores musical innovation as part of the Black legacy.
'Of Willie Mae': Film premiere and Juneteenth celebration
Saturday, June 19, 2021, from 12 - 4 p.m.
Watch the premiere of an experimental short film, "The Slave Narrative of Willie Mae", as part of a day-long Juneteenth Celebration held at Black Market Nubian Square.
Juneteenth Paint Party at Dorchester Art Project
Saturday, June 19, 2021, from 3:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Celebrate Juneteenth with Dorchester Art Project and SN Art Studio as they guide you through step-by-step instructions to create a beautiful canvas painting that celebrates our Freedom.
Boston Globe Juneteenth Film Festival
Tuesday, June 15, at 3 p.m. - Monday, June 21, at 3 p.m.
Amidst our country's reckoning with racism and inequality, The Boston Globe will celebrate Juneteenth by shining a light on films and filmmakers telling stories of Black imagination, strength, and liberation.
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