The Juneteenth holiday commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved Africans that the Civil War had ended and slavery had been abolished two years prior.


Beginning on Friday and over the holiday weekend, members of the Racial Justice Peace and Advocacy Work Group (RJPAWG) will attend a variety of Juneteenth events to observe the past, celebrate the progress made, address racial injustices, and promote peace and reconciliation.


Below is a summary of events that you can participate in over the Juneteenth weekend:


Friday, June 16

  • From 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday, June 16, the Juneteenth Block Party at City Hall is taking place. Join Mayor Evans as the City celebrates Juneteenth with a lunch time block party at City Hall! The block party is taking place outside City Hall, Church Street between State and Fitzhugh.  There will be food trucks and live music.


Saturday, June 17

  • At 10 a.m. Saturday, June 17, a parade begins at Chestnut Street and Court Street and ends at The Strong National Museum of Play, which is offering free admission that day. Following the parade, a festival from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Parkwill include a performance by national recording artist Lil’ Mo, family-friendly activities and a spotlight on local Black-owned businesses.
  • Save Rochester‘s fourth annual youth poetry slam will be held alongside the city’s Juneteenth celebration, which kicks off with a parade at 10 a.m., Saturday, June 17, beginning at Chestnut and Court streets in downtown Rochester.
  • The Strong National Museum of Play will offer free admissionon Saturday, June 17, in partnership with the Greater Rochester Martin Luther King Jr. Commission. Families can enjoy performances by Womba Africa and Dreamseeds, storytelling by Almeta Whitis and a museum-wide Black history artifact tour.
  • Roc Freedom Riders will hold its annual Juneteenth bike brigade, kicking off from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park at 10 a.m., Saturday, June 17. The ride is free, but RSVP in advance.
  • The Genesee Country Village and Museum will honor Juneteenth with special programming Saturday, June 17. The museum will host an exhibit of 19th-century skilled trades and stories of Black Americans and share culinary traditions from Juneteenth celebrations and recipes from Malinda Russell, the first known Black female published cookbook author. Ticketsrange from $12-18.
  • Members of the Blackstorytelling League of Rochester will share the history of Juneteenth and celebrations throughout the years during community discussions. The first will be held at Penfield Public Library from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 15. Another discussion will be held at the Rochester Public Library’s Central Library from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, June 17, and streamed on YouTube.
  • Freedom Day in Irondequoit: R.A.S.E, a local group focused on ending racism, will host its annual Juneteenth event at Irondequoit Town Hall from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 17. The event will feature live music, a video gaming mobile truck, performances from East Irondequoit’s step team and drumline, and shopping at Black-owned vendors. Connect with resources long after the holiday passes Freedom is also about uplifting yourself and your community.
    • Event Continues to Saturday, June 24: That’s the theme of a resource festival held by the Young Child Wellness and Brothers and Sisters Unisex Salon that will keep celebrations going the weekend following Juneteenth, Saturday, June 24, from noon to 7 p.m. at 1274 Dewey Ave. in Rochester.  The event will connect parents to childcare resources, support groups and anti-violence initiatives while providing family fun in the form of bounce houses, local vendors, dance battles, poetry readings and other live entertainment.


Monday, June 19

  • Juneteenth Memorial Service, from 10 a.m to 11 a.m. a graveside memorial service at the Historic Batavia Cemetery will be held to honor the life of Addy (18-7-1857), a slave to an Episcopal priest in Batavia for 46 years. This service is a reminder of the importance of recognizing and confronting the legacy of slavery in our society. The Rev. Shiela Campbell McCullough, who currently serves the East Bethany church, will be leading the service. St. James Episcopal Church in Batavia will also be represented.  All are welcome to attend and pay their respects.  The event is sponsored by Country Neighborhood.
  • The Rochester Museum and Science Center will host a free celebrationfor families featuring local performances, music, face painting, ice cream and more from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, June 19, at the Eisenhart Auditorium.
  • A 5K walk/run will also be held at Genesee Valley Park at 1 p.m., Monday, June 19. Registration is $25 in advance or $30 on race day. Funds from the event will support the construction of Heritage Park, an outdoor civil rights classroom. A post-race celebration will include light refreshments, music and local vendors.
  • Rock Hope Fellowship will host a Juneteenth play and fashion show titled, “Why me? Why Black? A journey to freedom” on Monday, June 19, at 575 Hayward Ave. in Rochester. Seating for the 7 p.m. show is limited, so be sure to reserve tickets in advance.