10 Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth Around DC

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David Murray plays saxophone at last year’s HR Music Festival. Photograph by Nick Moreland.

Juneteenth is almost here and there are plenty of things to do around DC before, during, and after the actual holiday, which falls on a Monday this year. Here are some ways to celebrate the emancipation of African-Americans.  

Celebrate Juneteenth

When: Sunday, June 18th from 11 AM to 5 PM.

Where: Brookland Artswalk (716 Monroe St., NE).

Supported by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, this free, family-friendly Northeast DC community festival will feature an African dance performance, a conversation on postpartum care in the Black community, and a presentation on the choreography behind Marvel’s Black Panther. There will also be a marketplace with goods from several Black-owned businesses. 

Passing Strange

When: Now through Sunday, June 18th.

Where: Signature Theatre (4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington).

Head to Shirlington to see the Tony-winning show about a young Black man who sets off for Europe to find his musical calling. Passing Strange boasts what Rolling Stone calls “a thrilling score in which rock, punk, funk and gospel conduct a revival meeting that blows the roof off.”  Tickets start at $56.

What’s Going On NOW: National Symphony Orchestra Tribute to Marvin Gaye  

When: Friday, June 16 at 8 PM and Saturday, June 17 at 8 PM.

Where: Kennedy Center Concert Hall (2700 F St., NW)

Join the NSO as it celebrates the 50th anniversary of DC native Marvin Gaye’s groundbreaking album, What’s Going On. Former Destiny’s Child member Michelle Williams, Broadway performer Joshua Henry, and multiple poets and writers from the DC area will perform. Tickets start at $39.  

R&B Bar Crawl  

When: Saturday, June 17th from 2 to 10 PM.

Where: U Street, Northwest (starting point is Provision 14, 2100 14th St., NW).

The second annual Juneteenth R&B Bar Crawl takes partiers up and down DC’s historic U Street, where they can enjoy drink deals to the tune of R&B music. Expect a different theme at all seven locations—the crawl ends at Amsterdam Lounge. Tickets are $10 until June 10th, and, $20 after.

One Life: Frederick Douglass

When: Starts Friday, June 16th and runs through April 21, 2024.

Where: National Portrait Gallery (Eighth and G sts., NW)

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery will debut an exhibit about civil rights leader Frederick Douglass. It will display personal objects, a pamphlet of his famous speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?,” and a letter from Douglass to President Lincoln. The show will also feature portraits of other Black activists in Douglass’s social circle, as well as those who carried on his legacy afterwards. Entrance is free. 

Black Business Expo  

When: Sunday, June 18th from 11 AM to 5 PM.

Where: Veterans’ Plaza (1 Veterans Plaza).

This free event in downtown Silver Spring brings together Black business owners to highlight and explore Black business growth in the area. The Expo features live entertainment, dancing, food and drinks for purchase, and over 60 Black-owned businesses. 

Home Rule Music Festival  

When: Friday, June 16th at 7 PM, Saturday, June 17th at 1 PM, and Saturday, June 24 at 7 PM.

Where: Multiple locations in DC.

Hosted by HR Records, the Black-owned Brightwood Park shop, the HR Music Festival is a multi-day celebration of the region’s rich musical history. The event kicks off with a $20  screening of short film The Drums Will Protect You at Songbyrd DC (540 Penn St., NE) on Friday, June 16th. and then transitions into a larger free festival the next day at the Parks at Walter Reed (1010 Butternut St., NW). Expect musical performances, food trucks, mural painting, and more, with an afterparty back at Songbyrd. The events close with a jazz night at Black Cat on Saturday, June 24th starting at $20.

Juneteenth for the City

When: Saturday, June 17th at 1 PM.

Where: Michelle Obama Southeast Center (1700 Good Hope Rd., SE)

Bread for the City and Mema’s Popups have collaborated to present this free, history-oriented event at Bread for the City’s community center in Anacostia. Shop at Black-owned businesses, hear a musical performance from DC’s Chocolate City Soul, and sample snacks from local vendors.

Juneteenth Poetry Slam

When: Saturday, June 24th at 6 PM.

Where: Horace and Dickies (12536 Mattawoman Dr., Waldorf).

Check out the Waldorf seafood spot—a spinoff of the late H Street Corridor institution—for a classic open mic poetry slam. Feel free to  step up and perform a poem, rap, or song, or just stay near the grill and enjoy the show. Those interested in performing can register here. Attendees must be over 21. Free entry.

Black Tech Collective Juneteenth Networking Link

When: Tuesday, June 13th at 5 PM.

Where: The Owl Room (2007 14th St., NW)

The Black Tech Collective will host a networking event  to help raise funds for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington’s STEM Club. While the event is free, guests can enter a $25 raffle to be eligible for prizes throughout the night. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

Malcolm Ferguson

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