(Juneteenth now has an official flag)
Compiled by Staff
On June 19, 1865, Union Army general Gordon Granger announced all enslaved people in Texas were free as announced in General Order Number 3.
Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day and Freedom Day, has now become a national celebration, and there are many throughout the Hampton Roads region.
Following are some of this year’s highlights:
Juneteenth in Newport News – June 12-19
This year’s Juneteenth in Newport News will be a week-long celebration, filled with events and activities for all ages. Some events are virtual, but others have been modified for in-person participation, with social distancing. Activities range from essay and poster contests for children to an outdoor concert at King-Lincoln Park and a Freedom Festival in the Superblock area of Downtown Newport News. Additional events include a conversation with a re-enactor portraying Frederick Douglass about the meaning of Juneteenth; a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation; a tour of The Newsome House Museum and Cultural Center; a Juneteenth production at Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center; and a meditation walk at Huntington Beach.
Juneteenth: Emancipation and Celebration Virtual Event in Hampton– June 16, 7 p.m.
The Fragments of Freedom Theatre Productions presents “Juneteenth: Emancipation and Celebration through Spoken Word Theatre and Music,” featuring the talents of spoken word artists and award-winning soul/R&B artist K’bana Blaq. Written and directed by Hampton playwright, Marie St. Clair, this moving and memorable experience will illuminate the origins and meaning of Juneteenth. Spoken word artists from the Hampton Roads area: Dreason Ruckett, L.E.V.I. and Aundre Raashard, will perform their original pieces with actors and singers to share the history, and celebrate the progress attained by generations past and present in the fight for freedom.
#ThirdThursday Public Art Walk in Virginia Beach, June 17, 4-6 p.m.
In celebration of Juneteenth weekend, join the Virginia Beach Cultural Affairs Department at the future home of the Virginia African American Cultural Center, where the public art installation “Portraits from a Place of Grace” is located. Richard Hollant’s work highlights residents from Virginia Beach’s 14 historically African American neighborhoods.
Juneteenth Opening Ceremony, 10-11 a.m. Join the Williamsburg community to commemorate, celebrate, and reflect on the Black experience in America at this year’s annual Juneteenth Opening Ceremony on Market Square in Colonial Williamsburg. Keynote address will be given by Professor Robert Watson of Hampton University on the meaning of Juneteenth. This ceremony is free to anyone who wishes to attend and is presented in partnership with William & Mary, The Let Freedom Ring Foundation, The First Baptist Church, The City of Williamsburg, and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. The Opening Ceremony is followed by a cookout at Chowning’s Tavern on Market Square, featuring a menu curated by award-winning food historian and chef Michael Twitty. Other highlights as follows:
“Loquacious Lucy” performance at the Play House Stage on Palace Green, 11:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Colonial Williamsburg’s Museum Theatre Department presents special Juneteenth performances of the play “Loquacious Lucy,” the story of an enslaved child who learns her friend has been sold. The play, part of Colonial Williamsburg’s Entertainments at the Play House, is open to guests with Colonial Williamsburg admission with limited capacity.
“Remembrance: Honoring the Voices” on Market Square, 1-3 p.m. The community presents “Remembrance: Honoring the Voices,” featuring live presentations of oral history to honor and preserve the voices of our community to support learning, growth and healing through the power of the spoken word.
Juneteenth Celebration at William & Mary, June 19, 2 p.m. The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg will present a virtual Juneteenth commemoration program that will include a performance of “Evolution of a Black Girl” by actress Morgan McCoy; music from such acts as The Gonzales Sisters, The Three Tenors and Matthew Willard; and remarks from university and community leaders. The program will also include footage from the groundbreaking for William & Mary’s Memorial to the Enslaved and a reading of the names of people who were enslaved by the university.
“Joy in the Morning” on the Charlton Stage, 4 p.m. Colonial Williamsburg presents the dramatic program “Joy in the Morning,” in which guests are invited to gather with members of the enslaved community to experience a music-filled message of hope. The program is open to guests with Colonial Williamsburg admission with limited capacity.
“CW Conversation: Juneteenth” Virtual Program, 4 p.m. Colonial Williamsburg presents “CW Conversation: Juneteenth,” the sixth program in its new, monthly virtual conversation series “US: Past, Present, Future.” The virtual series explores the intersection of current events, our shared history, and the enduring promises of America.
Commemorate Juneteenth at Jamestown Settlement, June 19, 2 p.m.
Jamestown was where the first recorded Africans in 1619 were brought after landing at Old Point Comfort and where the first slavery laws enacted in the late 17th century impacted their lives and status. In this thought-provoking 90-minute outdoor program of performance, music and dance, meet African Americans from three centuries who fought against those laws until freedom came. Juneteenth programs are included with Jamestown Settlement admission, but tickets to this limited-capacity event must be purchased in advance to reserve a seat.
Juneteenth Celebration at Selden Market, June 19th, 10am-5pm
Selden Market and Tidewater Waves present a Juneteenth Celebration. Celebrating the freedoms, achievements and culture of the African American community. Visit for a day of music, food, workshops, stories and a market of 30+ black owned businesses for you to support and connect with.
Juneteenth Solstice Fest, June 19, 12-10 p.m.
A free, all ages festival at Smartmouth Brewing’s Norfolk location featuring black owned vendor and art market hosted by Utopia Feni, Nomarama Late Night Munchie Market featuring black owned chefs and food pop-ups, and diverse live music performances by black artists all day.
NBN Academy: Waterways to Freedom Tour, June 19, 9:30 – 11 a.m.
Join Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander, author of Waterways to Freedom for a walking tour of Underground Railroad sites in downtown Norfolk. Hundreds, if not thousands, of African Americans made daring escapes to the north via ships visiting Norfolk’s waterways. Learn more about Norfolk’s heritage and implications for the present. The tour begins at Fountain Park. Registration is limited to 25.
A Juneteenth Family Day Celebration with the Chrysler Museum of Art – June 19, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Bring the family to the Chrysler Museum of Art to celebrate Juneteenth in partnership with the Virginia African American Cultural Center. Art, music, and activities will honor the African American people, past and present, who fought for freedom. Hot Gumbo Brass Band will perform outside the museum. Attendees can do craft activities in Mary’s Garden and go on a scavenger hunt throughout the museum to see works of art by African American artists. The VAACC will also do a brief reenactment of the Juneteenth story.
ViBe District Celebration, June 19, Begins at 9 am
The Virginia African American Cultural Center will collaborate with Teens With a Purpose and Tidewater Bluegrass Music Society in providing performances as part of #VBArts on Tour, a community-based pop-up series designed to bolster support for arts organizations reopening in the wake of Covid 19 closures. This event is intended to be celebratory artistic experiences honoring African and African-American culture and freedom of expression.