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.
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.
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.
- Baked from the Hart in Mount Baker
- The Comfort Zone in Columbia City
- Conscious Eatery in Georgetown
- COMMUNION Restaurant & Bar in Central District
- Emerald City Fish & Chips in Rainier Valley
- Emma’s BBQ in Hillman City
- Ezell’s Famous Chicken in multiple locations
- Fat’s Chicken & Waffles in the Central District
- Gravy on Vashon Island
- Island Soul in Columbia City
- Lil Red Takeout & Catering in Columbia City
- Mojito in Lake City
- Pot Pie Factory by delivery
- Plum Bistro on Capitol Hill
- Simply Soulful in Madison Valley
- The Station on Beacon Hill
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:
- “Code Switch“
- “Higher Learning with Van Lathan and Rachel Lindsay“
- “Black Wall Street 1921“
- “A Very Black Podcast” (listen to their Juneteenth episode here)
- “The Read“
- “Identity Politics“
- “The Diversity Gap“
- “Still Processing“
- “The Stoop“
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.
- “Miss Juneteenth“
- “A Different World“
- “Lovecraft Country“
- “When They See Us“
- “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson“
- “Atlanta” (check out the Juneteenth episodes)
- “Dear White People“
- “Get Out“
- “Juneteenth Jamboree“
- “High on the Hog“
- “I May Destroy You“
- “Akeelah and the Bee“
- “The Princess and the Frog”
- “Queen & Slim“
- “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
- “Antwone Fisher“
- “Black Panther“
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.
- “Juneteenth” by Ralph Ellison
- “The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls” by Anissa Gray
- “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson
- “Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi
- “Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America” by Candacy Taylor
- “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi
- “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together In the Cafeteria?” by Beverly Daniel Tatum
- “Beloved” by Toni Morrison
- “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
- “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly
- “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
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
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
“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
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
Juneteenth Rave “let that melanin flow” — June 19
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