Juneteenth was not something that I learned about in Baltimore schools in the nineties. I realized only in the last couple of years that Juneteenth celebrates the ending of the institution of slavery in the United States for Black people—commemorating the day in 1865 that those enslaved in Galveston, Texas finally got news of the Emancipation Proclamation two years after it was signed.
Now I understand the holiday’s significance.This year, I’m dedicating the day to community service by supporting Black led organizations in my hometown. Organizations and localities across the state are recognizing this long overlooked holiday too. I’ve included a rundown below of celebrations across the state that have caught my attention and invite you to commemorate Juneteenth this year in some way.
Anne Arundel County
The Annapolis Juneteenth Celebration will feature a parade, beginning at 12:00 p.m. After the parade, a Juneteenth music festival takes place at the Bates Athletic Complex and will close with a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, theatrical performance,and tributes from local artists.
The Reservoir Hill Association will host one of the city’s largest Juneteenth celebrations at 2411 Linden Avenue from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In addition to several musical performances, workshops and activities, the festival will have a COVID-19 vaccination clinic, health screenings and insurance enrollment among other resources.
Baltimore Main Streets have organized a Juneteenth Black Business Crawl where attendees can receive a swag bag full of goodies from different Black businesses in each main street district. Participating businesses will have special sales and exclusive offers to passport holders and at the end of the event, attendees turn their passports in to win prizes.
Historic East Towson will host their first Juneteenth festivities on Saturday, June 19 from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The music festival will take place at the legendary Elks Lodge, which has long been the social and cultural heart of this Historic African American community, founded by enslaved people from the Hampton Plantation, over 200 years ago.
Montgomery County’s 24th Juneteenth Celebration will be held at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown. The event begins at 12:00 p.m. on June 19, and will feature African American dance classes, educational documentaries, art viewings, an awards program and live music.
Prince George’s County
Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation will host virtual and in-person events to commemorate Juneteenth on Saturday, June 19. Festivities include a virtual arts exhibition, an opportunity to drive thru to pickup a celebratory Juneteenth kit, and a DJ battle featuring DJ Lance Reynolds and DJ Miss H.E.R.
Celeste Perilla is the Director of Regional Impact in Maryland at Leadership for Educational Equity. A graduate of Baltimore Public Schools, her work centers around building community capacity, emphasizing leadership development, and community organizing to positively impact educational experiences in Maryland.