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emancipation proclamation

Juneteenth will be celebrated like never before this year across Miami-Dade, with several events scheduled to commemorate the oldest celebration of freedom in the country, which Congress voted on Wednesday to become the nation's 12 federal holiday.

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation – legally freeing Black Americans from slavery – on Sept. 22, 1862. It went into effect the following Jan. 1, but wasn’t upheld in many places until more than two years later, after the end of the Civil War.

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Word of the Confederacy’s surrender reached the last enslaved Black people on June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news to Galveston, Texas. Now, Juneteenth is recognized as the first day of freedom from slavery for all.

Traditionally celebrated with parades, festivals and cookouts within African American communities, Juneteenth has evolved significantly in recent years.

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In 2020, the date became a day of protests in the wake of a nationwide racial reckoning. The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, as well as other instances of inequality and police brutality, sparked a kind of cultural awakening for Americans of all backgrounds. Yes, the country has come a long way since 1862, but more – much more – must be done.

One by one, state and city governments across the U.S. began recognizing Juneteenth as a formal holiday. They noted that honoring “Freedom Day” was important, because "until everyone was free, no one was free."

The Miami-Dade County Commission approved Juneteenth as an official paid holiday earlier this year, following behind South Miami and North Miami Beach, among others.

In addition, more than 460 companies, including Nike, Twitter and Lyft, have committed to observing Juneteenth by offering a paid day off, according to HellaCreative, a group of Black creative professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area that launched an initiative to garner corporate support for making Juneteenth an official national holiday.

Efforts to make Juneteenth a federal holiday are also underway, as Democrats in the House and Senate introduced the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act in late February.

Increased awareness and education about the holiday have led many organizations to host Juneteenth events for the first time this year. Meanwhile, other organizations are marking the 156th edition of the holiday with their staple celebrations and festivities. 

Whether you’re in the mood to get inspired, pay respects, have fun or learn more about Freedom Day, following is a list of events commemorating Juneteenth.

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1. Juneteenth Weekend Kickoff with Afropunk Hosted by Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM); evening of live music, art, community and a screening of “Black Spring” by Afropunk, an organization that celebrates Black artists. Thursday, June 17, 7 p.m. at PAMM, 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33132. Tickets are $10 for adults and admission is free for children. Visit PAMM.org/calendar/2021/06 for more information. 

2. From Renaissance to Resistance: Juneteenth Celebration of Music Hosted by Historic Hampton House; multidisciplinary collaboration of music, photography and poetry, with original works by Duke Ellington and South Florida composer Dwight Banks. Friday, June 18, 7 p.m. at Historic Hampton House, 4240 NW 27th Ave., Miami, FL 33142. Tickets are $10 presale and $15 at the door. Visit Eventbrite.com and search for “From Renaissance to Resistance” to purchase.

3. 20th Annual Juneteenth Commemoration Celebration Hosted by the City of Miami; outdoor family festival featuring arts and crafts, live music and food vendors. This year’s theme is the Black Family: Representation, Identity, Equity and Diversity. Saturday, June 19, noon at Henry Reeves Park, 600 NW 10th St., Miami, FL 33136; free admission.

4. Juneteenth Celebration Art Showcase Hosted by Clutch Couture; local Black artists creating pieces inspired by Juneteenth, live. Artists’ catalogs will also be displayed and available for purchase. Saturday, June 19, 6 p.m. at The Clutch Bar, 20348 NW 2nd Ave., Miami, FL 33169; free admission. 

Comedian Marvin Dixon
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5. Juneteenth Drive-In Celebration Hosted by the City of Miami Gardens; guests can “park and party” to celebrate the day. Emceed by comedian Marvin Dixon and featuring music by DJ BoWeezy and food trucks. Guests required to remain in or near their cars; lawn chairs welcome. Saturday, June 19, 4 p.m. at Calder Casino parking lot E, 21001 NW 27th Ave., Miami Gardens, FL 33056; free admission. Spots are first-come, first-served.

6. The Juneteenth Experience Hosted by Hued Songs and The Rhythm Foundation; multidisciplinary and immersive performance honoring the history of Juneteenth through dance, film and storytelling. Saturday, June 19, 6 p.m. at the North Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL 3314; free admission. Online registration required; visit Juneteenth.Miami/joinus for details.

7. 8th Annual Juneteenth Food and Music Festival Hosted by The Hungry Black Man; outdoor food festival featuring vegan and non-vegan dishes from chefs across the country. Visitors can eat their way “through Black America” and celebrate the day with BBQ, music and fun. Saturday, June 19, noon at the Sand Bowl @ Bandshell Park, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33141; free admission. 

8. Bahas Reunion Celebration Hosted by the City of Miami Gardens and Mayor Rodney Harris; reunion picnic event for those who grew up in the Bahas. Complimentary refreshments and games; additional food available for purchase. Saturday, June 19, 11 a.m. at Buccaneer Park, 3100 NW 207th St., Miami Gardens FL, 33056; free admission. Online registration required; visit Bahas4Lyfe.com/sign-up to RSVP.

9. Arts Celebration LIVE Hosted by The Betsy Hotel; live jazz in the lobby and spoken word performances at the exterior “Poetry Rail” space. Performers include pianist Allen Paul, vocalist Brenda Alford, poets Rebecca “Butterfly” Vaughns and Geoffrey Philip, and others. Guests may order dinner and drinks in the hotel during the performances. Saturday, June 19; jazz at 6 p.m. and spoken word at 9 p.m. at The Betsy Hotel, 1440 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach, FL 33139; free admission.

peter london dance

10. Juneteenth Day of Freedom Hosted by the City of Miami Beach; outdoor ceremony with performances from the Peter London Global Dance Company and New World School of the Arts High School Jazz Band. Saturday, June 19, 9 a.m. at Pride Park, 1809 Meridian Ave., Miami Beach, FL, beside the rainbow eucalyptus tree; free admission.

fiu juneteenth

11. Freedom Day Celebration Hosted by Florida International University’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; outdoor festival with food trucks, local artisan vendors, raffles and performances by bassist Curtis Lundy and DJ OsoCity – lawn chairs and blankets welcome. Saturday, June 19, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at FIU’s Earlene and Albert Dotson Pavilion Lawn, 11200 SW 8th St., Miami, FL 33199; free admission. Online registration is required. Visit DEI.FIU.edu/juneteenth for details.

12. Juneteenth Screening of “Wade in the Water: Drowning in Racism” Hosted by Miami Dade College; special screening of the 2020 film followed by a live discussion with Cathleen Dean, Miami filmmaker, and Nicolas Calzada, Miami Film Festival director of events. Saturday, June 19, 8 p.m. at MDC’s Tower Theater, 1508 SW 8th St., Miami, FL 33135; free admission. Online registration/RSVP required; visit Eventbrite.com and search “Wade in the Water: Drowning in Racism.” 

We Shuckin.

13. Juneteenth Liberation Celebration: Road to Economic Freedom Hosted by the City of North Miami Beach and Black Professionals Network; featuring free food from We Shuckin, arts and crafts, and giveaways. Saturday June 19, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Julius Littman Performing Arts Theater, 17011 NE 19 Ave., North Miami Beach, FL 33162; free admission. Online registration required; visit NMBJuneteenth.Eventbrite.com to RSVP.

14. Book Club by Black Girls Hosted by The Bookshop and Black Girls Gather; welcoming girls aged 12-17 to discuss novels by Black authors. Saturday, June 19, noon at The Bookshop, 176 NE 46th St., Miami, FL 33137; free admission. RSVP recommended; visit Eventbrite.com and search “The Book Club by Black Girls” for details.