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Juneteenth Celebrations on Main Streets!

June 20, 2022 | Juneteenth Celebrations on Main Streets! | By: Marta Olmos, Communications Coordinator at Main Street America | 

Juneteenth is a celebration of the final emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. The holiday has its origins in Texas, the last state to recognize the legitimacy of the Emancipation Proclamation. On June 19, 1865, the state issued General Orders No. 3, which officially informed enslaved people that they were free citizens. Since then, the holiday has grown to become a national celebration of freedom, Black history, and Black vibrancy. In 2021, Juneteenth became a federal holiday.

In recognition of this important date, we have gathered examples of community celebrations from five Main Street communities.

Downtown Metuchen (New Jersey)

Metuchen’s second annual Juneteenth Celebration, in partnership with the Metuchen Human Rights Commission and the Metuchen Edison branch of the NAACP, was centered around the theme of Afrofuturism. Afrofuturism is “the story of musicians, artists, writers, philosophers, fashion icons, filmmakers, costume and set designers, actors, activists and academics who have believed in a better future for Black people.” The event featured music and performances from drumline, step-dancer, and majorette groups.

Charles Town Now (West Virginia)

Charles Town Now commissioned a street mural from local artist Christina Rogombe. Check out this TikTok showing the painting of the mural here >

Downtown Springfield (Illinois)

Downtown Springfield, a Levitt AMP Grant recipient, hosted a full weekend of Juneteenth events. They kicked things off with a Levitt AMP Series Concert on June 16. On June 17, they hosted a Free Block Party and a Noir Art Exhibit at the Illinois State Museum. On June 18, people attended the Juneteenth Parade and the Juneteenth Celebration featuring local Black-owned restaurants. Check out this great video sharing what Juneteenth means to people in Springfield >

Delmar Main Street (Missouri)

On Saturday, June 18, Delmar hosted the 2022 Juneteenth Festival. The celebration included the Delmar Maker’s District, a street market full of innovative products created by young entrepreneurs. The Better Family Life Drum Warriors performed at the Exodus Art Gallery. The Craft Alliance hosted an outdoor performance, exhibitions, and hands-on activities. A health and wellness gathering included yoga, taekwondo, and a retail market. The festival culminated with the Happy Hour Block Party in partnership with local restaurants, shops, and musicians.

Wheeling Heritage (West Virginia)

Following their annual tradition, Wheeling went all out in celebration of Juneteenth. Festivities began with ‘Lunch with Books: Crossing the River for Freedom’ and the Ohio County Public Library. The Wheeling YWCA hosted a ‘Celebrating Black Resilience and Culture,’ which shared the story of Henry Brown, an enslaved man who escaped slavery by shipping himself within a wooden box. On June 19, the Wheeling Juneteenth Ceremony and Celebration featured music, entertainment, and food trucks.