What is Juneteenth?
Did you know it took almost three years for the Emancipation Proclamation’s message to reach every corner of the United States? President Lincoln declared freedom for slaves in Confederate territory back in September 1862, but it wasn’t until June 19, 1865, that African Americans all the way out in Texas finally heard the liberating news. In 1980, Texas proudly became the first state to make it an official state holiday.
This June marks the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, but as you know, it hasn’t always been widely celebrated, either in Jacksonville or elsewhere. In a remarkable moment in history, President Joe Biden declared Juneteenth a federal holiday in 2021, thanks to the dedication of trailblazers like Lula Briggs Galloway and Opal Lee. This special day has roots dating back to 1866, with early Texan communities gathering in churches to honor and celebrate their hard-won independence.
As we come together to recognize and honor this special moment, there are many ways to celebrate right here in North Florida. From soulful music concerts, live art performances and family-friendly activities, these 10 events will help make your day meaningful and memorable. So mark your calendar for a fruitful Juneteenth in Jacksonville —2023 is sure to be a celebration like no other!
Where to Celebrate Juneteenth events in Jacksonville, Florida
Jax Melanin Market
Get ready for the ultimate Juneteenth Festival in Florida! The highly anticipated Jax Melanin Market will transform A. Philip Randolph Blvd into a vibrant hub showcasing over 250 Black Owned businesses on June 17, 2023, from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Experience live performances by National Recording Artists, indulge in mouth-watering bites from food trucks, and watch the young ones have a blast in the Kids Zones.
Witness the triumphant return of this once-thriving hub for minority-owned businesses, which was sadly disrupted by the 1964 Race Riots. Now celebrating a fresh beginning, the market buzzes with over 7,000 eager attendees at its quarterly gatherings. Immerse yourself in this historic African American community as it springs to life along A. Philip Randolph Blvd, stretching from Union Street to Jessie Street. Get ready to embrace the spirit of unity and entrepreneurship in this incredible, ever-growing event. Unite and celebrate this Juneteenth with the entire community.
St. Augustine Music Festival with Ritz Chamber Players
Gear up for a musical extravaganza on Monday, June 19, 2023 at 7:30pm to celebrate Juneteenth with St. Augustine Music Festival. Teaming up with the Ritz Chamber Players and the exceptional talents of Ann Marie McPhail and Yokino Miyaki on piano. Revel in the poignant compositions of Samuel Coleridge Taylor at the iconic Cathedral Basilica honoring the abolishment of slavery in the United States. It will be an unforgettable night of melodies that resonate with the spirit of freedom.
Miss Juneteenth Scholarship Pageant
Get ready for a dazzling evening of empowerment and culture at the spectacular Third Annual Miss Juneteenth Scholarship Pageant! Taking the stage on June 17, 2023, at the iconic Ritz Theatre and LaVilla Museum, this remarkable event transcends the traditional beauty pageant and is deeply rooted in the African American experience.
The Miss Juneteenth Scholarship Pageant fosters sisterhood, unity, self-confidence, and social consciousness, earning its rightful title as the Crown Jewel of Juneteenth celebrations. Last year’s participants showcased incredible talent from local high schools, winning over the audience with grace and skill, as they breathed life into the pageant’s theme, “An Evening of Black Excellence.” Don’t miss this extraordinary celebration of strength, brilliance, and cultural legacy.
Juneteenth Holiday Community Parade (Daytona)
Get ready to make history with Daytona Beach’s inaugural Juneteenth Holiday Community Parade on June 17, 2023. This momentous occasion promises excitement and unity commemorating the date when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, finally received the news they were free.