Juneteenth -– also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day -- and Emancipation Day – celebrates and commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States.
That’s what most events will focus on in Massachusetts this weekend, with special significance, since this year will be the first that Juneteenth is recognized as an official state holiday. In addition, President Joe Biden this week signed a bill establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday.
The One Night in Boston free Juneteenth event kicks off Friday evening in Nubian Square at 6:30 p.m., featuring a film premiere and musical performances including DJ Chubby Chub, a radio host on JAMN 94.5, Danny Rivera, and the Boston Children's Choir.
Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Acting Mayor Kim Janey are scheduled to speak at the inaugural Juneteenth celebration, hosted by King Boston, a privately funded non-profit with a mission of honoring the legacy of Coretta Scott King and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Other speakers include The Boston Foundation President and CEO Lee Pelton and King Boston Executive Director Imari Paris Jeffries.
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A number of other Boston organizations are hosting events this weekend as well, including the Museum of Fine arts.
Community groups in Attleboro, including the National Black Doll Museum, will hold a “Still We Rise Juneteenth Celebration” this Saturday at Capron Park, featuring entertainment and educational presentations.
13FOREST Gallery in Arlington is launching an exhibition on Saturday, too, featuring work by Boston-area artists whose works pay tribute to Black history and Black leaders.
Additionally, the cities of Newburyport and New Bedford are hosting their own Juneteenth events at their respective city halls.
On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, bringing life-changing news to people living in slavery there: the Confederacy had fallen, and all enslaved people were now free. That day, June 19, would become known as Juneteenth, a day of celebration and reflection for Black Americans and people of all races across the country.
Last year, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed a measure to designate the historic day a state holiday, and on Tuesday, the United States Senate passed a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Since the Massachusetts measure didn’t go into effect until July of 2020, this Monday will be the first time the state officially celebrates the holiday.