Juneteenth, short for “June 19,” is a celebration of freedom for Black communities. The holiday, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day and Emancipation Day, commemorates the end of slavery in America. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing enslaved people, was issued in 1863, there was minimal enforcement in Texas, which meant enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, weren’t informed they were free until June 19, 1865. 

Each year, Juneteenth highlights and represents the solidarity and resilience of Black Americans. The holiday, which has been historically overshadowed by the Fourth of July, recently received the recognition it deserves. On May 13, Gov. Jay Inslee officially declared Juneteenth a state holiday in Washington. 

To celebrate Juneteenth, Black communities and supporters across the country honor the day of freedom with gatherings, fellowship and cookouts. Although Juneteenth is the day when most people of color celebrate, any day of the year can be a celebration to honor equality and Black history. 

Even though COVID-19 has changed the way many people celebrate holidays in Seattle, we’ve gathered a list of local events, as well as podcasts, movies, TV shows and more to help you salute and uplift Black voices. 

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Host your own gathering 

Though celebrating Juneteenth this year just got a little easier, thanks to loosening COVID-19 restrictions in Washington, maybe you still want to keep things at home. Try hosting a small outdoor gathering. Juneteenth is all about community, unity and celebrating together, so dust off your barbecue grill, lay out the drinks and invite your family and friends over to enjoy a day of fun, tasty food and soulful music. 

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Whip up some traditional foods 

What’s Juneteenth without mouthwatering food? Try out these crowd favorites for some gut-pleasing ideas: 

  • Barbecue. At just about any Juneteenth celebration, you’ll find the tantalizing smell of brisket, chicken wings, ribs and pork chops wafting through the air. Most of the meats are cooked long and slow to tenderize the meat while enhancing the flavor of added spice rubs and marinades.
  • Anything red. From red velvet cake to hot links, dishes with red ingredients symbolize the blood lost during the struggle for emancipation and the resilience of the enslaved.
  • Collard greens, black-eyed peas and sweet potatoes. These hearty options were commonly grown during the time of slavery and offer a variety of nutrients like vitamin C and calcium.
  • Don’t feel like cooking? Order some traditional favorites from the local restaurant list below. 

Support Black-owned businesses 

Treat yourself and shop at Black-owned businesses on Juneteenth. But don’t just shop on Juneteenth — continue your support for businesses owned by people of color in Seattle year-round. From sizzling barbecue to juicy Jamaican jerk, here are just a few of the Black-owned businesses in the Seattle area. 

Try out a new podcast 

When was the last time you checked out a new podcast? Commemorate Juneteenth by listening to one of the many popular Black podcasts. Here are a few suggestions: 

Tune into Black TV shows and movies 

More than ever, streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu are carving space for Black creators by highlighting their stories. While there are far too many noteworthy shows and movies to list, here are a few satisfying suggestions to get your weekend binge marathon started. 

Expand your reading list 

Whether it’s time to polish up your history skills or dive into a new realm of literature, get cozy and pick up a book written by a Black author. These popular books written by Black authors are sure to keep you turning the pages. 

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Check out local events

From virtual to in-person, the Seattle area has an array of Juneteenth events fit for all ages.

Juneteenth Celebration Drive-Thru & Zoom — June 18

Lynnwood Recreation Center & Senior Center hosts a drive-thru at 11:30 a.m. where participants can pick up red velvet cake to enjoy while watching the virtual Juneteenth presentation at 1 p.m. Register for a slice of cake and streaming online; free. 19000 44th Ave. W., Lynnwood, 425-670-5050; lynnwoodwa.gov

Create a Juneteenth Picnic — June 18

King County Library System hosts chef Matt Lewis at noon to show participants how to make some of his favorite picnic items and share the importance of Juneteenth. Register online; free. kcls.org

Global Grub & Groove — Juneteenth — June 18

Issaquah Highlands presents its first “Global Grub & Groove” event celebrating community and culture with food from C. Davis Texas BBQ and live music by Michael Powers at 6 p.m. Find more information online; free with food for purchase. 2550 N.E. Park Drive, Issaquah; 425-507-1107; issaquahhighlands.com

Juneteenth Week: 2021 Artist Collective — June 18

The Diversity, Equality and Inclusivity Committee of the Space Needle & Chihuly Garden and Glass, alongside the Northwest African American Museum, One Vibe Africa and Wa Na Wari, are celebrating Juneteenth by raising the voices of Black and African American artists in an Artist Collective broadcast premiering at 7 p.m. Streaming on YouTube; free. spaceneedle.com

Juneteenth: Journeys of Remembrance Celebration — June 19

King County Library System hosts a virtual event at 10 a.m. in which participants can experience Juneteenth through the lens of local artists and creatives, and learn the history, traditions and stories of the African American journey. Register online; free. kcls.org

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“No Healing, No Peace” — June 19

Join Nile’s Edge Healing Arts at 10 a.m. for a guided walking meditation in Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Memorial Park where participants can explore a moment of reflection, grounding, healing music and spiritual awareness. More information online; free. 2200 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S., Seattle; 206-328-4825; nilesedge.com

Program Kit: Juneteenth Craft — June 19

Celebrate Juneteenth by picking up a limited edition program kit from Tacoma Public Library at 10 a.m. that features the supplies needed to make your own Juneteenth sign for display. More information online; free. Kits available at all branches; 253-280-2800; tacomalibrary.org

Juneteenth Festival — June 19

It Takes a Village presents Juneteenth Festival at 11 a.m., in which participants can enjoy food, music, history lessons, vendors and community services booths (COVID-19 vaccines, health insurance enrollment and more). Find more information and a map online; free. 4351 S. Othello St., Seattle; 206-659-1710; facebook.com/ItTakesAVillageAMSA

#Juneteenth21 Freedom March & People’s Assembly — June 19

Celebrate Juneteenth at this year’s Freedom March & People’s Assembly starting on 22nd and Madison at 1 p.m. and ending at Jimi Hendrix Park around 3 p.m. featuring live performances, food, Black vendors and more. RSVP online; free. 23rd Avenue East and East Madison Street, Seattle; kingcountyequitynow.com

Juneteenth Jamboree — June 19

The Northwest African American Museum and City of Seattle Parks and Recreation present Juneteenth Jamboree, during which participants can enjoy family fun, recreation, activity from local professional sports teams and more, noon-6 p.m. RSVP online; free. 2150 S. Norman St., Seattle; 206-518-6000; naamnw.org

1619: Resistance/Resilience/Remembrance — June 19

Celebrate Juneteenth with a special storytelling hour at 2 p.m. featuring community scholar Delbert Richardson and stories of the resistance of his ancestors during the periods of American chattel slavery and Jim Crow. Register online; free with $5 suggested ticket price. mohai.org

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Juneteenth Celebration at Wa Na Wari Featuring Live Music Outdoors with Blu Meadows Trio — June 19

Wa Na Wari celebrates Juneteenth with live music outdoors featuring Blu Meadows Trio at 6 p.m. More information online; free with drinks for purchase. 911 24th Ave., Seattle; 206-485-7563; wanawari.org

Christian McBride with Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra — June 19

SRJO presents eight-time Grammy winner Christian McBride for a Juneteenth virtual concert livestreaming from Benaroya Hall at 7:30 p.m. Purchase tickets online; $35. srjo.org

Juneteenth Rave “let that melanin flow” — June 19

Celebrate Juneteenth with live music, food and drink at 9 p.m. More information online; $20/presale ticket. 704 19th Ave. E., Seattle; facebook.com/events/519501789231678

Tha Family Affair: A Juneteenth Celebration Cookout — June 20

Blaque Mass Studios presents its first Family Affair Juneteenth Cookout featuring dance classes, community healing circles, live music, Black vendors and more, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. for members of the Black community and 2-9 p.m. for Black, Indigenous and other people of color. Find more information online; free. 2400 S. Massachusetts St., Seattle; facebook.com/events/491214575464276

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