Jun 17, 2022 - Things to Do

How and where to celebrate Juneteenth in Chicago

Illustration of a Black couple laying on a kente cloth blanket.
Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Last year, Juneteenth became the 11th federal holiday.

  • It also became an Illinois holiday, so most state offices are closed Monday.

Why it matters: June 19, 1865, was the day enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, received news that Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier.

Flashback: President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law last June in response to a summer of protests following George Floyd's murder.

What they're saying: Laquan Austion, founder of The Juneteenth Foundation in Washington, D.C., says people of all races should view June 19 as an American holiday — not one just for Black people.

  • "Think about July 4th," Austion tells Axios. "We celebrate that day for American independence. Juneteenth represents our independence from ourselves. Now we all have the ability to pursue the Founding Fathers' vision."

How to celebrate: The new federal holiday should be viewed as more than another day off from work, Austion says. Instead, people can recognize Juneteenth by:

  • Learning: This is a moment to be introspective and ask, "Why were people still enslaved in 1865? Why didn't they get the information in Galveston?" he says.
  • Scholarships: Give to historically Black colleges and universities.
  • DEI: Push your company on diversity, equity and inclusion policies. "DEI is really sexy right now," he says. "We want to make sure that remains important. What are our companies' plans?"
  • Celebrate: Austion says it's important to recognize that for some people, this is a "moment of solace and mourning." But still, people should get out in their communities, go to events and use this as an "opportunity to learn and hear."

The bottom line: "Definitely go out, be an ally, be an asset," Austion says. "But don't be tone deaf and try to hijack it as your own. Don't try to commercialize it. Go out there and enjoy the festivities and learn and celebrate this as Americans."

Things to do:

Friday: The fourth annual Juneteenth Celebration at Allen Metropolitan Church will feature the Jesse White Tumblers, fireworks, a bouncy house and a live DJ.

  • Noon to 9pm at 10946 S. Lowe Ave.

Saturday: The Beverly/Morgan Park Juneteenth Family Festival will feature African dance, African djembe drumming, storytelling, food and cardio dancing.

  • 11am to 7pm at 110th Place and Longwood Dr.

Sunday: The Juneteenth BBQ & Block Party! The DuSable Museum and Chance the Rapper present a family affair with special performances outside the museum.

  • It's BYOG — bring your own grill — starting at 11am.

Sunday: The Old Town School of Folk Music presents a free Juneteenth Celebration concert featuring the Alton Smith & Bill Brickey Soul Ensemble starting at 7pm.

  • Check out more Juneteenth events compiled by Block Club here.
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