Juneteenth Celebrations Planned Around Chicagoland.

Juneteenth is the oldest known commemoration of the ending of slavery in the nation. Known as Emancipation Day, it is a time to rejoice, reflect, and emphasize achievements and education.  On June 19, 1865, the union soldiers led by Major General Gordon informed the enslaved community in Galveston, TX, that the Civil War ended and the enslaved were free. This was two and a half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Thousands of free enslaved people left their slaveowners in search of family members and headed north.

In 1980, former Texas State Representative and civil rights activist Al Edwards sponsored the legislation making Juneteenth the first legal Texas state holiday. This accomplishment earned Edwards the nickname “Mr. Juneteenth.” Forty-seven states recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday. Illinois legislature approved Juneteenth as a state holiday.  African American communities across the country observe Emancipation Day with festivals, cookouts, and parades.

Food has played an essential role in Juneteenth gatherings. Here are some food and drinks that are symbolic of serving in celebration of Juneteenth.  Food in the color red symbolizes the bloodshed, the struggle for freedom, and resilience. Red velvet cake, watermelon, strawberry pie, hot links, and BBQ are food traditions of Juneteenth. Red drinks can be tea, cherry, and strawberry punch. Texas’ red drink of choice is “Big Red Soda, created in 1937 by R.H. Roark and C. Thomsen in Waco, TX.

Check out some of the Juneteenth events and support black businesses throughout the Chicagoland area below with family and friends.

9th Annual Juneteenth Celebration

The Black Mall

The National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum

10400 S Maryland Ave, Chicago, IL

2:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.


Father’s Day Juneteenth

Eden Place Nature Center

4417 S. Stewart, Chicago, IL

12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.


Homewood-Flossmoor Juneteenth Festival

​Homewood-Flossmoor High School South Parking

999 Kedzie Ave, Flossmoor, IL

11:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.


Juneteenth Block Party

1200 E. 79th Street, Chicago, IL

12:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.


Juneteenth Celebration

611 E. 67th Street, Chicago, IL

2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.


Juneteenth Freedom Day

Westside Arts Council

Columbus Park

500 S. Central Avenue, Chicago, IL

12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.


Tammy Gibson is a black history traveler and author. Find her on social media @SankofaTravelher.


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