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Where to celebrate Juneteenth across the US


On June 19, 1865, more than 250,000 enslaved men, women and children in Texas learned of their freedom. Bursts of joy quickly filled the streets, birthing the holiday known as Juneteenth the following year.

While Juneteenth was only federally recognized by President Biden in 2021, June 19 has been celebrated across the U.S. in Black communities for decades, with festivals, concerts, educational forums, marches and so much more. These celebrations are a time of reflection, remembrance and restoration for communities from generation to generation.

No matter where you find yourself, there’s a celebration happening near you. We’ve gathered some of the best destinations across the nation to experience Juneteenth festivities.

Galveston, Texas

GALVESTON ISLAND/FACEBOOK

The most notable of all Juneteenth celebrations starts in the city of its birthplace. Festivities occurring over the holiday weekend include The Parade & Picnic event, Comedy Fest and the 44th Annual Al Edwards Juneteenth Celebration.

While in the city, visitors should complete the Freedom Walk Challenge, an interactive lesson in Texas’ history and quest for freedom. One prominent stop along the route is the Absolute Equality mural, marking the spot where General Granger read the infamous order freeing the enslaved Texans.

Where to stay: One of the best family-friendly hotels in Galveston sits mere steps from the Gulf of Mexico along the historic Seawall Boulevard. The Hilton Galveston Island Resort has something for everyone, including a swim-up bar for adults to enjoy. Rates over Juneteenth weekend (June 16-19) start from $375 per night, or 70,000 Hilton Honors points per night.

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

The Narragansett House. NARRAGANSETT HOUSE/FACEBOOK

Founded in the 1890s, Oak Bluffs is home to one of several remaining summer resorts created for African Americans during segregation. Toward the latter part of the 1900s, Black people frequently visited Town Beach in the Oak Bluffs area of Martha’s Vineyard. However, it was nicknamed “The Inkwell” by white folks as a slur towards the Black beachgoers.

In the years since, the name has been reclaimed and sits as a place of honor toward our ancestors. Celebrations include The Inkwell Beach House‘s annual Jubilee Festival from June 16-19. Attendees can participate in a screening of the docuseries The 1619 Project with a fireside chat by the film’s creator and author Nikole Hannah Jones.

Other weekend events include music by Grammy-nominated jazz artist Christian Sands and an afterparty. A weekend chock full of legendary Black leaders, community activists, culinary delights and talented musicians, Jubilee Festival will undoubtedly feel like a classic family reunion.

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Where to stay: Maintaining the spirit of luxury and comfort, visitors can book a room at one of three circa-1800s beachfront Victorian inns within the Inkwell franchise: The Narragansett House, Dunmere Cottage or The Inkwell Beach House. For a stay at Narragansett House or The Inkwell, room rates start at $175 per night over Juneteenth weekend. The Dunmere Cottage starts at $6,000 for a week’s stay, with add-on services (additional fees apply) for breakfast baskets, midweek laundry and cleaning services.

Seattle

Museum of Pop Culture which hosts Freedom Flows: A Juneteenth Event Honoring 50 years of Hip-Hop. MUSUEM OF POP CULTURE/FACEBOOK

The Seattle area may not, initially, be associated with Black history, culture and influence. However, the first known presence of Black people in the state dates back to 1845. Settling into Puget Sound, in an area currently known as the Bush Prairie area, Black pioneer George Bush, his family and others flocked to the state.

With more and more African Americans creating a new life in their new city and bringing traditions with them, the music scene began to be heavily influenced by Black people. Juneteenth in Seattle pays tribute to those icons and contributions.

The Museum of Pop Culture is hosting Freedom Flows: A Juneteenth Event Honoring 50 Years of Hip-Hop to commemorate iconic moments in hip-hop music over the years. There will be a pop-up installation, “My Mic Sounds Nice,” dedicated to the contributions of female artists in the genre. Museum guests can also delight in the unveiling of associate curator Adeerya Johnson’s online hip-hop collection, featuring special guests MC Sha-Rock, DJ Lady Love and Jarobi from A Tribe Called Quest.

The Northwest African American Museum annual celebration occurs daily from June 17-19, including a film festival, skate party, game show and plenty of shopping from local Black vendors.

Also happening over the holiday weekend is the AfricaTown Summer of Soul Series —Juneteenth on June 19 at Jimi Hendrix Park. Attendees can enjoy music from award-winning artists, Talib Kweli and Kevin Ross. The Summer of Soul series also hosts events throughout the summer magnifying Seattle’s Black culture, history and community.

Where to stay: The real treat at The W Seattle is the 14th floor where a half-dozen rooms feature “Faces” murals by local artist Morgan Zion. The artworks, which are linked to different neighborhoods and their distinctive culture, provide a unique, local perspective on the best things to do in the city. Rates start at $347 or 44,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night over Juneteenth weekend.

Richmond, Indiana

Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site and Interpretive Center. INDIANA STATE MUSEUM AND HISTORIC

The Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site and Interpretive Center in Fountain City is a critical part of the Black History of Wayne County. More than 2,000 enslaved persons seeking freedom found refuge at the Coffins’ home. Their home has been called the Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad over the years.

Another important part of Wayne County is the Gennett Records Walk of Fame. At a time when Black musicians were not able to record at certain studios, Gennett Records welcomed them. Legends such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Charley Patton are just a few of the artists that recorded music at Gennett Records and were honored on the Walk of Fame.

For sports lovers, Richmond is also home to one of the Negro League Baseball Teams, The Richmond Giants. These sites and others are a part of Richmond’s new Black History Trail, to be unveiled on Juneteenth. The trail will highlight the stops throughout Richmond that are monumental to national, regional and local history. Participants can download a digital pass to check in at the different locations along the trail.

Where to stay: Richmond has several vacation home rentals, boutique properties and chain hotels. However, the real gem is snagging a stay at the Historic Gennett Mansion Guest House. Built in 1897, the mansion was the home to Henry and Alice Gennett, the founders of Gennett Records, and it’s featured on the National Registry of Historic Places. Rates on Airbnb start at $129 per night. Pro tip: Book directly on deltaairbnb.com to earn Delta SkyMiles for Airbnb rentals.

Cleveland

Cleveland Juneteenth Freedom Fest. METROHEALTH CLEVELAND JUNETEENTH FREEDOM FESTIVAL/FACEBOOK

Cleveland was founded in 1796, and just thirteen years later, a Black man named George Peake found his way there, marking the first presence of African Americans in the city.

Cleveland has a long-standing history of remarkable contributions from its Black residents. One such person is Garrett Morgan, best known for his innovations in the stoplight system. Cleveland also gave us the Stokes brothers. In 1967, Carl Stokes was elected as the first Black mayor of a major city in the U.S. One year later, his sibling Louis Stokes became Ohio’s first African American congressman.

Hosting on June 16 and 17, the Cleveland Juneteenth Freedom Fest shines a light on the contributions of its local heroes and champions that give the city its spirit, charm and pride. The festival events include interactive art, roller skating and performances from Karamu House, the oldest African American theater in the U.S. Other festival delights are Vendor Village and Soul Food Row, an opportunity to eat and shop from local Black-owned businesses.

Where to stay: Nestled in Cleveland’s bustling downtown area, The Kimpton Schofield takes amenities to the next level, offering something for every guest. The pet-friendly lodging can arrange dog-walking for canine companions, has free bike and micro-scooter rentals and yoga mats in every room. Guest can even request to have plants placed in their rooms! Rooms start at $132 or 27,000 IHG points per night from June 16-19.

Raleigh, North Carolina

Capital City Juneteenth Celebration. VISIT RALEIGH

The state capital is no stranger to events relevant to African American history. Leonard Medical School was the fifth African American medical school in the U.S. Founded in 1881, they made history again as the first medical school to have a four-year curriculum, training 400 Black doctors.

Raleigh was also home to one of the most sizeable plantations within the county. By sharing truthful narrations, Mordecai Historic Park honors the enslaved men, women and children that lived and worked at the Wake County Plantation.

Capital City Juneteenth Celebration returns with a weeklong lineup of events kicking off on June 14. Events include musical performances from local groups, panel discussions and Family Day at Dorothea Dix Park. At the NC Museum of History, there will be a reenactment from soldiers representing the U.S. Colored Light Artillery who fought in the Civil War.

Where to stay: Filled with contemporary decor, murals and neon signs, The Casso is a favorite hotel among those who look for Instaworthy vibes. It’s within miles of area attractions like local parks, The Marbles Kid Museum, Morgan Street Food Hall and Raleigh’s Union Station. Rates over Juneteenth weekend start at $210 per night, or 37,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

Jacksonville, Florida

Kingsley Plantation. FLORIDA STATE PARKS/FACEBOOK

Kingsley Plantation was the largest plantation in Florida. According to an 1860 census record, 43% of the city’s population encompassed enslaved people.

However, Jacksonville has a rich history beyond its troubled past. Places like Brewster Hospital and Stanton School were the first of their kind for African Americans in the state. Jacksonville is home to James Weldon Johnson, the writer of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a Negro League baseball team and A.L. Lewis, Florida’s first Black millionaire.

Celebrations in Jacksonville start on June 17 with the Freedom Walk at JP Small Ball Park. The Melanin Market, occurring on the same day, brings together more than 150 Black-owned businesses on the East Side of Jax. Food trucks, pop-up boutiques and live entertainment are part of the lineup. The world-renowned saxophonist, Dayna Stephens, is headlining the Jazz Discovery Series at James Weldon Johnson Park.

Where to stay: Jacksonville has beautiful beaches. A stay at one of the beachfront properties is always a treat. One such hotel is Casa Marina, a historical hotel that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. The hotel boasts of its award-winning Sunday brunch featuring a variety of mimosas, beignets and eggs Benedict. Rates over Juneteenth weekend start at $189 per night.

Nashville

Fort Negley Park’s annual Freedom Fireworks. JUNETEENTH615/FACEBOOK

Music City has given us numerous stars throughout the years, jumpstarting the careers of many. Among the legends is songwriter Alice Randall, the first African American woman to co-write a number-one country music song.

The 1960 student protests at Woolworth lunch counters might be the most seminal events in Nashville’s civil rights and African American history. The stories of these brave students are told at Nashville’s Public Library, which hosts a Juneteenth Celebration that aims to promote.a greater understanding of Juneteenth to all ages.

Over at Fort Negley Park, the annual Freedom Fireworks lineup includes a proclamation ceremony, food trucks, live entertainment and more. Visitors can also participate in special events hosted by the National Museum of African American Music throughout the holiday weekend. Juneteenth is an extra special celebration this year, as it is now an official state holiday as of May.

Where to stay: In the center of downtown, close to all the music and camaraderie of Broadway, is the Bobby Hotel on Printer’s Alley. Perhaps the best part about a stay at Bobby is the rooftop lounge with iconic scenery of the city, summer jam sessions from local artists and the Instaworthy backdrop of the Scenicruiser bus. Rates start at $397 per night.

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