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Federal employees have a day off for Juneteenth for the first time after President Joe Biden declared it a federal holiday. The extra vacation day is Friday, since June 19 falls on a Saturday this year.
Philadelphia government won’t be closed Friday, but all city employees will receive an extra paid day off, either via administrative leave or comp time, according to Mayor Jim Kenney’s office.
The mayor signed an executive order in January that officially made Juneteenth a city holiday, spokesperson Deana Gamble said. The order was retroactive to last year — when Kenney gave municipal workers the day off as the holiday gained in popularity during the summer of explosive human rights protests — and will last through the end of his administration.
Efforts to memorialize Juneteenth as a city holiday indefinitely are underway, Gamble said. The administration is working to clear it with city unions, and make sure it follows civil service regulations and other rules.
Said Mayor Kenney in a statement, “Our administration is proud to recognize Juneteenth as an official city holiday, which affords us all time for healing, reflection and celebration of freedom.”
The holiday commemorates the 1865 date when Civil War Union soldiers arrived in Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, which was signed two years prior. While the order legally changed the status of people designated “slaves” to “free,” not all areas of the country paid heed, and federal troops were sent to make sure it took effect. Texas was the last holdout.
Dedicated groups of Philadelphians have been celebrating “Freedom Day” for years, following in the tradition of the first Juneteenth party, which featured special foods and dress.
This year’s Juneteenth weekend in Philly will buzz with a colorful array of events.
From an outdoor dance party to historical reenactments, block parties, and no-charge museum admissions, Freedom Day celebrations promise to touch nearly every corner of the city.
The Philadelphia Juneteenth Parade & Festival was launched by the Pennsylvania Juneteenth initiative in 2016 and is helmed locally by Michael A. Rashid, former president and CEO of AmeriHealth Caritas. The 2019 parade (last year’s was canceled because of COVID) drew more than 25k attendees, organizers said on the website.
This year’s celebration kicks off with a Freedom Day March and rally from 52nd and Haverford to Malcolm X Park where the festival will host its first ever “Art in the Park” exhibit. There will be a float competition and a vendors fair.
When: June 19, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: 52nd Street and Haverford Avenue to Malcolm X Park, 5100 Pine St.
More info: juneteenthphilly.org
Northwest Philly events
Stenton Mansion was the 18th century home of James Logan, William Penn’s secretary. It was once also home to enslaved African people. Today, the home stands as a museum and historic site.
Stenton in collaboration with Keepers of the Culture, Inc. will host a festival at Stenton Park and the museum, featuring the Universal African Dance & Drum Ensemble, story telling reenactments and the Women’s Sekere Ensemble. Admission to the museum will also be free.
When: June 19, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Stenton Park, 4600 N. 16th St.; Stenton Mansion, 4601 N. 18th St.
More info: stenton.org
The Philadelphia Juneteenth Festival at Historic Germantown
Johnson House Historic Site was once a stop along the Underground Railroad. For Juneteenth, the museum is filling the 6300 block of Germantown Avenue with a day’s worth of commemorative activities and celebrations for Freedom Day, the site’s 15th such celebration.
This year’s festival will include a mix of virtual and in-person programming, which includes a gun violence solutions panel of community leaders and experts, an oral history of Juneteenth, morning yoga, live reenactments of pivotal civil rights activists and abolitionists Jo Ann Robinson and Harriet Tubman, and a theatrical slave narrative performance.
When: June 19, 1 to 5 p.m.
Where: Multiple locations; 6300 block of Germantown Avenue
More info: johnsonhouse.org
Vernon Park fashion show
Germantown’s Vernon Park will transform to a runway for this two-day fashion show and community festival event.
In addition to fashion and wares from local vendors, attendees can check out the IGotNext gaming truck, a bounce house for children and food and drink.
When: June 19-20, 10 a.m.
Where: Vernon Park, 5818 Germantown Ave.
More info: Eventbrite
Parties and community events
Juneteenth falls on a Saturday this year, but the day before, Black Lives Matter Philly is holding its annual Jawnteenth celebration. The afternoon-to-evening event features food, music, dancing and marching. Bringing a lawn chair is encouraged, and organizers “lovingly welcome all people who identify as a member of [the Black] community,” on the events page.
When: June 18, 4 to 8 p.m.
Where: Malcolm X Park, 5100 Pine St.
Cost: Free, pay as you go food
More info: Black Lives Matter Philly Facebook
A Juneteenth dance party
Get ready to dance during DJ Na$h’s Juneteenth Festival at Sunflower Philly. The party will feature local DJs like Bobby Flowers, HVNLEE and Brotha Taaj playing music from across the African Diaspora. There will be food from the Jerk Chicken Man and Philly Tropical Treats, and folks can BYOB.
When: June 19, 1 to 8 p.m.
Where: Sunflower Philly, 1725 N. 5th St.
Cost: $5 to $15
More info: sunflowerphilly.org
Nicetown-Tioga’s Juneteenth community day
In Nicetown-Tioga, City Athletics Philly is sponsoring a block party featuring Tyehimbe African Percussions, choral performances, free barbecue, pony rides from the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, and more.
When: June 19, 1 to 3:30 p.m.
Where: West Tioga Street between 19th and 20th
More info: cityathleticsphilly.com
A comedy show at the Grand Yesha Ballroom merges Juneteenth and Father’s Day celebrations for the Clean Comedy & Fashion Show event.
In addition to a comedy show with stand-ups like Timmy Hall and Weight Ball, the event will also have music performances and on-site vendors.
When: June 19, 6 to 10 p.m.
Where: The Grand Yesha Ballroom, 2308 Snyder Ave.
Cost: $25 to $40
More info: Eventbrite
Community day at Hatfield House
Historic Hatfield House, near the corner of 33rd and Girard, will hold a family fun community day featuring a DJ, face-painting, giveaways and Philly-fave refreshments like soft pretzels and water ice.=
When: June 19, 2 to 5 p.m.
Where: Hatfield House, 3201 W. Girard Ave.
More info: myphillypark.org
A millennial-geared hip-hop concert
Millennial Juneteenth is a civic and volunteerism organization geared toward, well, millennials. To commemorate its namesake holiday, the group is throwing a festival and concert headlined by Philly rappers Rocky and Dappa, and hosted by local social media comedian FunnyBullQuill.
When: June 19, 5 p.m.
Where: Kingsessing Recreation Center, 4901 Kingsessing Ave.
More info: millennialjuneteenth1865.com
The inaugural Black Man’s Conference
For three days, the Centennial Parkside CDC is hosting its inaugural Black Man’s Conference. It features in-person workshops for health and wellness, yoga, meditation and reflexology, a light lunch with a Keynote by scholar-activist Dr. Leon D. Caldwell and a series of community conversations.
When: June 18-20
Where: Various locations across West Fairmount Park, including Historic Belmont Mansion, 2000 Belmont Mansion Dr.
Cost: Free, ticketed
More info: Eventbrite
Community Renewal at the ECO Foundation
The ECO Foundation, which opened its new community center in West Philadelphia last summer, is holding a Juneteenth Community Renewal event in collaboration with the 3rd Lap Podcast. The day features a food giveaway, vendor fair and mental health check-in.
When: June 19, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: The ECO Foundation, 5411 Market St.
More info: @theecofoundation
Black Market, Juneteenth edition
North Philly Peace Park’s Black Market will host a Juneteenth edition. In addition to a field of Black-owned vendors offering accessories, personal care, music and instrument services, home and garden wares and more, the day will hold a mental health discussion, music and networking opportunities.
When: June 19, 12 to 5 p.m.
Where: North Philly Peace Park, 2200 W. Jefferson St.
More info: @northphillypeacepark
You may have already seen it. From Wednesday, June 16, to Sunday, June 20, the Philly skyline will be illuminated in honor of the Juneteenth holiday.
The Office of Black Male Engagement is partnering with Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church for its 3rd Annual Brothas Stroll Health Walk and Community Day, which will also feature games and music.
The Wawa Welcome America Festival is melding its traditional Independence Day celebrations with some Juneteenth ones, including the Broad and Market Festival Experience, featuring live musical and dance performances, vendors and giveaways.
Watch a Facebook Live screening of the 25th Anniversary of “In the Land of Jim Crow,” a 5-part docuseries written and produced by the Philadelphia Commission for Women Executive Director Jovida Hill.
And at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, the Philadelphia Millennial Advisory Committee is throwing a community festival alongside 100.3 RNB Philly.
When: June 16 to June 20, various times
Where: Various locations
More info: Phila.gov
Museums, institutions and tours
Free admission to the African American Museum
Celebrate Juneteenth with free admission to the African American Museum, sponsored by Wawa Welcome America and Visit Philadelphia. Along with museum admission, the day promises dance and music performances, food and local vendors, and educational youth activities.
When: June 19, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch St.
More info: aampmuseum.org
Philly’s first Black firefighters
Known for its enchanting, reflective mirror garden, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens will explore Engine 11, once a firehouse that was home to the city’s first Black firefighters.
There will be four guided talks on the former firehouse at 1016-18 South Street, jazz in the community and the South Street Renaissance.
When: June 19, 1:45, 2:45, 3:45 and 4:45 p.m.
Where: Alder Street Alley between 10th and 11th streets
More info: phillymagicgardens.org
Old City’s museums
The Museum of the American Revolution is commemorating Juneteenth with a long weekend of online activities, including a virtual walking tour of Mother Bethel AME Church. The online activities are free. In-person museum pop-ups are included with price of museum admission.
When: June 17 to June 21
Where: Online and at the Museum of the American Revolution, 101 S. 3rd St.
Cost: Children 5 and under, free; Children 6 to 17, $13; Adults, $19 online, $21 in person
More info: amrevmuseum.org
Juneteenth falls within the Betsy Ross House’s Flag Week. As such, Saturday will see the raising of the Juneteenth Flag alongside U.S. Colored Troops reenactors, and programming about Richard Allen, founder of Mother Bethel AME.
When: June 19, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Betsy Ross House, 239 Arch St.
Cost: First 100 visitors free
More info: historicphiladelphia.org
Admission to the National Constitution Center is free for Juneteenth. There will be historical education programming including an interactive exploration of the history of U.S. slavery, the “Four Harriets” program and an appearance on the museum’s front line from Carlo Campbell as Frederick Douglass.
When: June 19, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: National Constitution Center, 525 Arch St.
More info: Constitutioncenter.org
Hands-on Juneteenth at Please Touch
Philadelphia’s youngest children and their family can have a hands-on Juneteenth celebration at the Please Touch Museum. The museum’s programming includes African American quilting, a special story time, interactive activities about historic Black STEM figures, and more.
When: June 19
Where: Please Touch Museum, 4231 Ave. of the Republic
Cost: General admission, $22; ACCESS cardholders, $2
More info: pleasetouchmuseum.org
Music and the arts
Mural Arts chats social movements
Mural Arts is hosting an hour-long conversation about how public art’s historic and modern-day involvement in and influence on social movements.
When: June 18, 6 to 7 p.m.
More info: Eventbrite
A virtual genre fusion concert from the Kimmel Center
Thee Phantom & The Illharmonic Orchestra is coming (virtually) to the Kimmel Center for a Juneteenth performance. The group melds strings, horns, piano and hip-hop alongside a vocalist and DJ.
When: June 19, 6 to 8 p.m.
More info: kimmelculturalcampus.org
Jazz at the Woodmere
Juneteenth: A Holiday for All, aims to honor the celebration through a night of jazz performance in partnership with the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Artists including The Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble, King Sunny Ade and Nina “Lyrispect” Ball will grace the stage for two musical sessions.
When: June 19, 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Where: Woodmere Art Museum, 9201 Germantown Ave.
More info: woodmereartmuseum.org