Juneteenth, a combination of “June” and “nineteenth,” is celebrated each year on June 19 and commemorates the day in 1865 when the final slaves in Texas received news of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed two years earlier. Though Juneteenth is not yet recognized as a federal holiday, 47 states mark the day as either a holiday or observance, including New Jersey—which was the first state to ratify the 13th Amendement, which abolished slavery.
Although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed January 1, 1863, the amendment wasn’t fully ratified until December 1865, after the Civil War. Some southern slaveholders claimed Black people were still their property, so the Union Army rode south to inform slaves they were free. Here’s how you can explain the holiday to your kids.
We’ve rounded up both virtual and in-person events where you can celebrate Juneteenth in NJ.
*If you attend an event, check for social distancing guidelines and be sure to bring a mask and hand sanitizer.
Organized by The Clergy of the Jersey Shore, this unity walk and rally is 1-5 pm at Springwood Avenue Park.
At 4 pm outside of Bayonne City Hall, Mayor Jimmy Davis and Members of Black in Bayonne will raise the Pan African Flag.
This motorcade celebration will begin lining up at 1656 Kaighn Ave. at noon and head to Wiggins Park at 1 pm in honor of ancestors who endured slavery.
Half virtual, half in-person, the new Harriet Tubman Museum will open virtually, followed by a Walk for Social Justice at Lafayette St. at 3 pm. The event will have speakers who will discuss the museum and the preservation of Black cultural heritage sites, plus live music.
First Republic Restaurant and Lounge will host Juneteenth Caravan and Movie Night, beginning at 5:30 pm with an outdoor screening of the movie Just Mercy at 6:30 pm.
This festival and candlelight vigil hosted by the Black and Brilliant Events Team at Owen’s Field at 1 pm encourages attendees to bring tents and picnic blankets for free food, live entertainment and speakers. There’ll even be a moonbounce and a local Black marketplace.
Join the Juneteenth Justice Rally for racial justice at the Bergen County Courthouse at 5 pm.
On Saturday, June 20 from 1-3 pm at Johnson Memorial Park, the Amplifying Black Young Voices will register people to vote, have speakers, performers and Kona ice cream truck. Please bring a mask.
Head Liberty State Park for a Juneteenth picnic at noon, then to MLK Dr., from Kearny Ave. to Bayview Ave., between noon and 5 pm for a Juneteenth celebration, then head to City Hall from 2-4 pm for Black-Owned Initiative.
The Juneteenth Campout at Round Valley State Park at the Youth Center Playground on Saturday, June 20 will begin at noon and end at 8 pm. The campout will include food, games, hiking and a DJ. $20/adults, $10/kids.
From 1-4 pm, this Peaceful Protest Rally organized by the Moms and Daughters of Milltown at Boro Park will feature an open mic session, sidewalk chalk drawings and a spoken word. Masks and social distancing are required.
Starting at noon, the Juneteenth Peaceful Protest and a Moment of Silence rally will take place at Rowan College.
Starting at noon, a Drive to Justice motorcade demonstrating against police brutality will make its way from 206 Springfield Ave. to the Peter Rodino Federal Building, followed by stops at 970 Broad St., City Hall, 920 Broad St. Newark Penn Station, Market Street and Military Park at 633 Broad St.
At 9 am on Saturday, June 20 at the Integrity Masonic Temple, march with the Juneteenth Peace March Against Racial Injustice against police brutality.
At Plainfield City Hall from 4:30-6:30 pm, Jumping for Justice will have guest speakers and a double dutch competition. Bring your ropes, masks and hand sanitizer.
Head to Rowan College of South Jersey Gloucester Campus on Saturday, June 20 from 1-4 pm for the Gloucester County NAACP 1st Annual Juneteenth Celebration. There’ll be ice cream, food trucks, local speakers, an African drummer and teacher, African dance ensemble with stilt walkers and more.
The Smoke N’ Ashes cigar lounge and Verifried Foods will host a Juneteenth Tailgate Party at 200 Walraven Dr. from 3-8 pm. Attendees will get free swag bags from Coffee and Cornbread, a Black-owned cafe.
The NAACP Cape May County Chapter and the Twp. of Middle will host a festival with food, games, drinks and more at noon on Saturday, June 20 at 207 West Main St.
The Academy Art Museum
This weekend, this virtual celebration features local and national Black artists and their work, plus children’s crafts, music, storytime and more.
Amistad Center for Art & Culture
Tonight, the 2020 Juneteenth Virtual Gala includes jazz and R&B by saxophonist David Davi and a virtual toast with a signature Junetini cocktail.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture
Take a tour through the museum’s Slavery and Freedom exhibition with foudning director Lonnie Bunch III.
The Juneteenth Conversations: Rhymes, Lyrics & Rhythmic Dialogues discussion will begin at noon and explore one of the many great Black contributions to culture, rap, and how the genre is used to fight for equality.
New Brunswick NAACP Chapter
Hosted by the New Brunswick NAACP Chapter, Frontiers International, Plainfield and the NJ Association of Black Social Workers, this discussion will take place on Zoom from 4-6 pm and will tackle economics, education and mental health awareness. There’ll also be liberation, a healing prayer, live music and poetry.
New Jersey Institute for Social Justice
Participate via Zoom or watch on Facebook Live @NJISJ at 4 pm for a discussion on how to repair the “cracks” of structural racism in NJ’s Black and communities of color.
Rutgers University – Newark
At 1 pm, faculty and alumni from the Departments of African American and African Studies and History will have a discussion on the history and significance of Juneteenth.
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