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A paradegoer hoists a red, black and green African American flag during the 2022 West Garfield Park Juneteenth Parade on Central Park Avenue.

A paradegoer hoists a red, black and green African American flag during the 2022 West Garfield Park Juneteenth Parade on Central Park Avenue.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

Where to commemorate Juneteenth in Chicago: ‘A celebration of freedom’

The June 19 federal and state holiday honors the day in 1865 when the last enslaved African Americans learned they had been freed — two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Live performances by musicians like Chicago’s own Common, educational exhibits, dancing and more are just a few ways to celebrate Juneteenth across the city in the coming days.

The holiday is celebrated June 19, honoring the day in 1865 when the last enslaved African Americans learned they had been freed — two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth was made a state and federal holiday in 2021.

“It’s really a celebration of freedom,” Perri Irmer, president and chief executive of the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center, told the Sun-Times.

“We want to show how far we’ve come, but also recognize and acknowledge that we have a long way to go. It’s a family-oriented event, so we will have all sorts of activities — musical performances, storytelling, a blues band, a soul band,” Irmer said of the museum’s Juneteenth celebration on Wednesday, its largest outdoor event of the year that is expected to draw nearly 10,000 people.

Even a NASCAR pit crew will stop by the event — weeks before the race returns to the streets of the Loop.

“We also want the kids to be aware that there are areas of study and work and careers that they might not know about … even sports that we have not been historically allowed in or have been inaccessible to Black people, and those things are changing, so we also want to celebrate change,” Irmer said.

Nakisha Hobbs, who helps organize the Juneteenth Village Fest at Douglass Park with It Takes a Village Family of Schools, said their celebration Saturday, featuring Chicago-born rapper Common, as well as “tons of activities for little kids,” should also attract nearly 10,000 people.

“One of the major reasons we’re excited to put this event on is it’s a demonstration of love for each other and love for our community, and a demonstration of what safety and peace and joy looks like in the African American community,” Hobbs said.

The 1865 Fest, a three-day festival kicking off Friday at Garfield Park, also invites people from all over the city to “enjoy culture and just have fun and celebrate emancipation,” festival founder Carol Johnson said.

“We want people to come out because one of the things we’re trying to do is re-image Garfield Park,” Johnson said. “Garfield Park has in the past had negative imaging and negative things said about it, but we want people to know that there’s positive things going on in the community collectively with the people. It’s a safe and peaceful festival.”

Here are some ways to celebrate Juneteenth in Chicago:

The Garfield Park 1865 Coalition hosts 3-day 1865 Fest

Friday’s flag-raising ceremony honoring Black veterans is by invitation only, but the next two days are free and open to the public. Saturday’s youth day will feature a dance battle and musical performances. Sunday will also celebrate Father’s Day with a “Grillin and Chillin” cook-off.

  • When: 3–6 p.m. Friday; noon-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday,
  • Where: Friday, Garfield Park Gold Dome Field House, 100 N. Central Park Ave.; Saturday and Sunday, Garfield Park Music Court Circle.
  • More information: 1865festchicago.com.

Juneteenth Village Fest

It Takes a Village Family of Schools’ free festival will be headlined by Common and hip-hop artists Domani Harris and Dead Prez. African American food vendors, a bounce house, Ferris wheel, a magic show and Jesse White Tumblers are among the other highlights.

  • When: Noon–8 p.m. Saturday
  • Where: Douglass Park, 1401 S. Sacramento Dr.
  • More information: itavschools.org.

Bronzeville’s annual Juneteenth celebration

The free celebration will highlight youth and adult artists, and local small businesses “with a lot of fun and educational activities.”

Bronzeville Children’s Museum Juneteenth celebration

The event, which will include interactive and fun activities for kids, is free for members and $5 for non-members.

10th Annual Chicago Juneteenth Parade

  • When: 11 a.m. Saturday
  • Where: West Madison Street and South Sacramento Avenue
  • More information: chijuneteenthparade.org.

Juneteenth Family Festival of Beverly/Morgan Park

The free festival aims to honor ancestors, celebrate the African and African-American cultures, unite the community and connect Chicagoans with resources and services.

Accessible Juneteenth celebration

The free event, hosted by Chicagoland Disabled People of Color Coalition, UIC Disability Cultural Center and the Institute on Disability and Human Development, commemorates Black people with disabilities “who have helped create a more free world.” The celebration will also feature live music, food and giveaways.

The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center’s Juneteenth celebration

The free event will include educational programming, theater performances, family-friendly discussions, a health care pavilion and more.

  • When: 10 a.m.–8:30 p.m. Wednesday
  • Where: The DuSable Museum, 740 E. 56th Place.
  • More information: dusablemuseum.org.

ONE Northside Juneteenth Celebration

ONE Northside and Partnering for Peace host a free celebration with food, games and music.

Refine Collective presents 4th annual Juneteenth Freedom Market

A free, all-ages celebration highlighted by a market of more than 50 local Black-owned businesses.

  • When: 4-10 p.m. Wednesday
  • Where: The Salt Shed Fairgrounds, 1357 N. Elston Ave.
  • More information: saltshedchicago.com.

Juneteenth Illinois hosts “Food is Medicine” health panel

  • When: 8–10 a.m. June 22
  • Where: Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Jackson Blvd.
  • More information: juneteenthillinois.com.

Juneteenth Illinois hosts blood drive

  • When: 9 a.m.–3 p.m. June 22
  • Where: Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Jackson Blvd.
  • More information: juneteenthillinois.com.

Juneteenth Illinois hosts “Pathways to Freedom” justice panel

  • When: 10–11 a.m. June 22
  • Where: Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Jackson Blvd.
  • More information: juneteenthillinois.com.

Juneteenth Illinois hosts “Secure the Bag” wealth panel

  • When: 11 a.m.–Noon June 22
  • Where: Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Jackson Blvd.
  • More information: juneteenthillinois.com.

Juneteenth Illinois hosts BINGO game

  • When: Noon–1:30 p.m. June 22
  • Where: Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Jackson Blvd.
  • More information: juneteenthillinois.com.

Juneteenth Illinois hosts educational panel

  • When: 1–2 p.m. June 22
  • Where: Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Jackson Blvd.
  • More information: juneteenthillinois.com.
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