Juneteenth is coming up, and SF’s own Museum of the African Diaspora is preparing for a special day with free admission, several virtual talks, multiple musical performances, and more.
Although Juneteenth is observed on June 19th, the museum will be closed that day to give staff a day of rest in the spirit of the holiday. The museum’s celebration will take place on Saturday, June 18 from 11am-6pm. Be sure to register for your free ticket ahead of time.
Juneteenth: Freedom Day @ MoAD
- 12-1pm: Art As We See It (virtual) – A collection of revolutionary art and music pieces curated by museum docents, plus an informal conversation about their history and artistic expressions.
- 12-2pm: Performance by St. Gabriel’s Celestial Brass Band (in-person) – Second line processional by an authentic New Orleans Traditional Jazz Funeral and Mardi Gras Marching Band.
- 3-4pm: Juneteenth: A Day of Jubilee (virtual and projected in MoAD Salon), Professor Daina Ramey Berry presents the history of Juneteenth, from the beginnings of the Transatlantic Slave Trade to enslaved people’s eventual emancipation.
In addition to the day’s special events, visitors will enjoy free admission from 11am-6pm to peruse MoAD’s current exhibitions.
- Elegies: Still Lifes in Contemporary Art – An international group of artists explores the genre of still lifes within a framework of Black diasporic identities.
- David Huffman: Terra Incognita – David Huffman’s Traumanaut series follows futuristic beings in search of home in the galaxy, with influences from the Black Power Movement, cartoons, and more.
- Dwellers: Native One – Artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s multimedia artworks depict dense foliage from Eastern Nigeria in honor of Earth Day. Viewable from Mission Street.
- Sam Vernon: Impasse of Desires – SF-based artist Sam Vernon’s museum-wide exhibition investigates queerness within a vast network of Black faces and familial structures, using drapes of colorful fabric and a vibrant yet loose constellation of images.
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.
Museum of the African Diaspora
San Francisco’s extraordinary Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) has served as a vital Bay Area institution since 2005. It’s one of the world’s few museums focusing solely on African Diaspora culture, and we are very lucky to enjoy it right here in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena neighborhood.
The museum works to spark difficult conversations and learning while celebrating art, artists and cultures from the African Diaspora. Its exhibitions have long engaged with the Bay Area community and beyond by lifting up Black art and artists of African descent.
Find the Museum of the African Diaspora at 685 Mission Street in Yerba Buena, on the ground floor of the St. Regis. Hours are Wednesday-Saturday from 11am-6pm and Sundays from 11am-5pm.
Featured image: Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s window installation entitled “Dwellers: Native One” above MoAD’s entrance on Mission St. Photo credit: Tinashe Chidarikire