Just a year after Juneteenth was officially named a federal holiday, San Francisco has stepped up to the plate to celebrate with a slew of activities across the city, from street fairs to film screenings. Are you ready for an amazing weekend? Read on to discover everything that’s going on now through the weekend.
1. Juneteenth Freedom Celebration
Saturday 6/18 in the Fillmore District
This enormous celebration will take over 8 blocks in the Fillmore District on Saturday from 11am-6pm. It will include live music and performances, a fashion and hair show, a classic car show, dozens of food trucks and booths, a 21+ beer and wine garden, FREE unlimited carnival rides, games, and an obstacle course.
2. Juneteenth at MoAD
Saturday 6/18 at the Museum of the African Diaspora
This special day will include free admission, several virtual talks, multiple musical performances, and more from 11am-6pm. Don’t miss the Second line processional by St. Gabriel’s Celestial Brass Band from 12-2pm, and be sure to check out the museum’s current exhibitions.
3. Bayview Juneteenth
Sunday 6/19 at Gilman Park
SF Black Wallstreet presents their third annual Juneteenth celebration from 11am-5pm on Sunday, with special emphasis on family and Father’s Day. The celebration includes a car show, plenty of food, carnival games, and live music from legendary R&B group Silk.
4. Jazzteenth at the Bandshell
Friday 6/17 (4:30-7:30pm) – Jazzteenth
Soul/Jazz/R&B Happy Hour – Celebration of James Weldon Johnson’s birthday featuring the legendary Victor Wooten and the Wooten Brothers.
Saturday 6/18 (12:00 to 4:00 pm) – Jazzteenth
Fillmore Jazz Ambassadors present The Evolution of America Thru Jazz – including John Coltrane Church Jazz Ensemble, Lady Bianca, The Charles Unger Experience, Robin Duhe, Fillmore Slim.
Sunday 6/19 (4:30 – 7:30 pm) – Reggae Sunday
Crucial Reggae Sundays with Irie Dole and special guest Exco Levi.
5. City Hall lighting
Sunday 6/19 at SF City Hall
SF City Hall is going all out on lighting this month for Juneteenth, Pride, the Trans March, and more. See it illuminated in red, green, and black in honor of Juneteenth on June 19 after the sun goes down, and keep an eye out for other SF landmarks that will surely be following suit.
6. Juneteenth with Bayview Opera House
Friday 6/17 – Saturday 6/18: The Joy Protocol
World premiere of artistic collaboration between choreographer Gregory Dawson and Jazz musician and composer Richard Howell. See it at Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre on Friday and Saturday from 8-9:30pm. Tickets starting at $15.
Sunday 6/19: Straight Outta Hunters Point
Free 20th anniversary screening of 2003 film Straight Outta Hunters Point with special performance by Tongo Eisen-Martin. See it at Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre on Sunday from 7-9pm.
7. SF Jazz Festival’s final weekend
Through Sunday, 6/19
The 39th annual SF Jazz Festival ends on Sunday 6/19, but there are still 9 more concerts to catch before then! Kim Nalley will perform a tribute to Nina Simone in the Juneteenth Celebration Concert on Friday 6/17. Tickets start at $35.
8. Juneteenth activities with SF Public Library
*SF Public Library branches closed on Sunday 6/19*
Saturday 6/18 at Richmond Branch
Juneteenth family storytime of Opal Lee and What it Means to be Free from 1-2pm; book Raffle for Opal Lee and What it Means to be Free and The Hill We Climb with refreshments and drawing at 4pm; Tie-Dye Workshop for teens ages 13-18 from 1:30-3:30pm.
Saturday 6/18 at Bayview Branch
Screening of 2019 film Harriet from 2-4pm, with film discussion.
Juneteenth book recommendations
Browse SF Public Library’s list of book recommendations highlighting the history of Juneteenth, memoirs by Black authors, and more.
A brief history of Juneteenth
June 19, also known as Juneteenth, Emancipation Day, or Freedom Day, is a day that signifies the end of slavery in America. Over 150 years ago, on June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas to break news that the Civil War had ended and that all those who were enslaved were now free, according to Juneteenth.com.
President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had gone into effect on January 1, 1863, and declared every enslaved person in Confederate States was now legally free. But, Texas, the furthest west territory, was still under Confederate control at the time. So, enslaved people there did not receive emancipation until the end of the war nearly two years later. The day celebrates the triumph, of course, but also shows how long it took for that freedom to be implemented in the far reaches of the Confederacy.
During the post-emancipation period of Reconstruction (1865-1877), most formerly-enslaved populations were left without possessions, land or resources to begin new lives with. Yet after 200 years of slavery, these populations immediately worked to reunify families, run for office, establish schools, and even sue their enslavers for damages.
The U.S. Senate passed a bill on June 16, 2021, making Juneteenth a federal holiday.
Featured image: Tippman98x via Shutterstock