For a 140-year-old holiday, Juneteenth is still relatively obscure. Juneteenth marks the anniversary of June 19, 1865, when the Union soldiers brought news to the slaves of Galveston, Texas, that they were free. (This was more than two years after President Lincoln put the Emancipation Proclamation into effect! How’s that for bureaucracy?) A celebration took place on that day as the news of liberation shook the African-American community. Many of those newly freed people left Texas, some heading toward relatives in the South and some striking out to make a living in the cities of the North. As the original celebrants of Juneteenth moved across the United States, they took their annual tradition with them.
Now, 140 years later, Juneteenth is observed internationally as a day of freedom, education and revelry. This year in Sacramento, Juneteenth will last two days and kick off with a gospel concert “under the stars” at Granite Regional Park. The concert lasts from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday night, and admission is free.
The next morning, the park plays host to a daylong Juneteenth party with live music, a children’s activity area, a dance contest, a step show and more than 100 vendor booths. Admission is free from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. at Granite Regional Park, located at 3321 Ramona Avenue off Power Inn Road.
From 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday, a free shuttle will run between Granite Regional Park and the Juneteenth celebration happening concurrently at Negro Bar State Park in Folsom. Titled Reclaiming the Past: African Americans Along the American River, the Negro Bar event will feature a re-enactment of an African-American gold-panning camp, free wagon rides, storytelling and 19th-century games for children.
For more information on Sacramento’s Juneteenth events, call (916) 808-8983. To find out more about the Juneteenth tradition and the plans for an international celebration of Juneteenth’s 150-year anniversary, visit www.juneteenth.com.