MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Juneteenth is coming up this Sunday, June 19th, although the federal holiday will be recognized Monday and Memphis-area events start Saturday, June 18th.

As many may or may not be aware, this year’s Juneteenth celebration is now a federal holiday. With Juneteenth being declared as a federal holiday in June 2021, this makes it the 12th permanent federal holiday. The last federal holiday added to the registry was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday in 1983.

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Juneteenth Independence Day, and Black Independence Day, celebrates the end of slavery in the United States.

June 19, 1865 is significant because when Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX he announced the end of slavery and the Civil War. While Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, many enslaved people were not informed of their freedom until years later.

According to Congressional Records, Texans celebrated the first Juneteenth in 1866 with community-centric events including parades, cookouts, prayer, musical performances, as well as historical and cultural presentations.

Over the years, local traditions have provided ways for members of the community to commemorate this historic day as they see fit. The state of Tennessee does not consider Juneteenth a state holiday as legislation to codify it stalled in this year’s State Assembly.

What’s going on in Memphis on/before Juneteenth?

The following celebrations will be hosted around Memphis this year in honor of Juneteenth:

  • Live Life Safety ‘I Know Who I Am’ Youth Awareness Day
    • This city-wide youth event will take place at the Citadel of Deliverance on Hacks Cross on Friday. The event will include a youth round table talk, a fashion show, and a gospel explosion. Learn more here.
  • Cynthia Daniels’ Juneteenth Shop Black Festival
    • The 3rd Annual Juneteenth Shop Black Festival features a pop-up shop featuring 100 Black businesses and over 20 food trucks and vendors. It will be hosted at the Pipkin Building on Early Maxwell. Click here for more information. Learn more here.
  • TONE Juneteenth Gala and Festival Weekend
    • Tone is hosting a gala on Saturday where guests can enjoy a catered meal by the river, followed by an afterparty on the Mississippi Queen Riverboat. The celebration continues on Saturday at their Juneteenth Family Reunion Festival with music performances from Duke Duece, Lukah, Hitkidd, and more. Learn more here.
  • Juneteenth 29th annual Douglass Park Freedom and Heritage Festival
    • Continuing for the 29th year, the Juneteenth Jubilee Freedom Festival in Douglass Park will take place all weekend featuring live music performances, kid’s games, yoga, a petting zoo, a fashion show, and a wrestling match. Learn more here.
  • Rhymes on the River: Juneteenth Poetry Slam
    • This free 3-round elimination poetry competition will be located at the Fourth Bluff Park on Friday at 7 p.m. Seating is available for the first 75 guests. Attendees are welcome to bring their lawn chairs. Click here for more information.
  • Butteriffic Juneteenth Block Party
    • Butteriffic Bakery & Cafe will be hosting a celebration on Saturday and Sunday at their location on Second Street. Learn more here.
  • Juneteenth: A Celebration of Black Freedom
    • The event is being hosted by the Museum of Science and History-formerly known as the Pink Palace Museum-on Saturday from Saturday at 11 a.m. until Sunday at 3 p.m. The celebration includes a special tour and a musical performance. After the event, the museum is continuing the holiday at Overton Park Shell on Sunday for more performances. Learn more here.
  • Major Taylor Memphis Juneteenth Ride
    • The 2nd annual ride is scheduled for Sunday at 7 a.m. Complimentary lunch will be provided after the ride. Learn more here.
  • Juneteenth Festival at Health Sciences Park
    • The 29th Annual Memphis Juneteenth Festival will be located at Health Sciences Park beginning June 18-June 19 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The celebration includes a 2.5 run/walk, car show and Greek Step Show.