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June 16, 2021

Celebrate Juneteenth in Philadelphia this weekend

Here's a look at some of the Juneteenth festivities and events taking place across the city

Holiday Juneteenth
Juneteenth Samantha Madera/City of Philadelphia

The City of Philadelphia is hosting several events to celebrate Juneteenth, which commemorates the freeing of enslaved people in the United States. (Pictured: 2018 Juneteenth Celebration.)

Philadelphia will play host to several events, festivals and activities to celebrate Juneteenth this year, which commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. 

The holiday honors the day in 1865 when news of the end of slavery reached Galveston, Texas — one of the deepest parts of the Confederacy.

Philadelphia recognized Juneteenth as an official city holiday last year, and Mayor Jim Kenney renewed the observance for 2021. The city is working to permanently recognize the holiday.

Just days before the holiday itself, the U.S. Senate approved a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, called Juneteenth National Independence Day. The bill still needs to pass through the House and be signed by President Joe Biden to become law.

Pennsylvania's state senate is working to pass a similar bill to recognize the holiday in the state. It came from Philadelphia State Sen. Sharif Street (D-3rd District) and State Sen. Judith Schwank (D-11th District).

"The holiday today seeks to proliferate the ideas of self-improvement, the celebration of African culture and respect for all cultures," the bill reads. "This day of pride is incredibly significant to many Pennsylvanians, and as such, it deserves to be recognized in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania."

For the first time, the city's Fourth of July celebration, Wawa Welcome America, will include Juneteenth events through a partnership with the African American Museum in Philadelphia. The museum is hosting several events from June 17 to July 3. 

"We welcome members of the Greater Philadelphia community, the country and the world to join us as we explore and commemorate the historical significance and connection of Juneteenth and July 4th," said Ivan Henderson, vice president of programming, African American Museum in Philadelphia. "AAMP is proud to be a part of this year's Wawa Welcome America partnership as we reflect on the experiences of African Americans during those defining moments in history, as we live and work through our own current defining moments."

Here's a look at the upcoming events:

Thursday, June 17

The African American Museum in Philadelphia's series kicks off Thursday with an ArtBreak at 12:30 p.m. featuring Dr. Gabrielle Foreman of Penn State University and the Colored Conventions Project. The presentation focuses on the historical and contemporary impact of Juneteenth and the Fourth of July.

The city is hosting ReJUNEvenation: A Juneteenth Cultural Celebration Pop-Up at LOVE Park from 12-1:30 p.m. There will be a multi-genre percussion ensemble and poetry, storytelling and other musical performances.

The event is free and the city will live stream all performances via Facebook Live.

Friday, June 18

Buildings in the Philadelphia skyline, like the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Lincoln Financial Field and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, will light up red, black and green from June 13-19 in honor of Juneteenth.

Saturday, June 19

The Philadelphia Juneteenth Parade and Festival begins at 9:30 a.m. at 52nd Street and Haverford Avenue, running all day. Due to COVID-19, there will not be a parade, but instead a Freedom Day rally program followed by a march down 52nd Street at 11 a.m. 

Participants can then view the inaugural "Art in the Park" exhibit at Malcolm X Park and attend the vendors fair. There will also be a Philadelphia Juneteenth Freedom Day Float House Competition.

The Office of Black Male Engagement will host the 3rd Annual Brothas Stroll Health Walk and Community Day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, located at 2800 W. Cheltenham Ave. The event is geared toward bringing Black males, their families and their communities together for games, music and more.

The AAMP is hosting Saturday Night Jazz from 5-8 p.m. at the Woodmere Art Museum, located at 9201 Germantown Ave. 

The Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble will perform selections from the jazz opera "Never Back Down" and a poetry and music performance from award-winning Black lyricist and author Nina "Lyrispect" Ball. Tickets will be available for two sessions for $25 each.

Sunday, June 20

The AAMP will host an all day celebration featuring family-friendly outdoor festivities, educational activities, food, vendor sales and live performances by the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble, Nina "Lyrispect" Ball, Aijee, Drum Like a Lady, Warren Oree and the Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble and V. Shayne Frederick.

The AAMP is also offering free timed admission to the museum on June 19 and June 20 from 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., courtesy of Wawa. 

The National Constitution Center will also offer free admission all day Sunday with tours of the Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality exhibit

The Museum of the American Revolution is hosting a virtual walking tour at 10 a.m. on June 19 that will be broadcast on Facebook. The museum is also featuring a Juneteenth exhibit including performances and gallery talks from June 17-19. 

The Fairmount Park Conservatory is hosting a Juneteenth celebration at the Hatfield House on June 19 and June 20 from 2-5 p.m. There will be a DJ, activities, face painting and giveaways.

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