Many ways to mark Juneteenth and celebrate freedom

Betsy PriceCulture, Headlines


Juneteenth celebrates June 19, 1865, when all of America’s slaves became free. Delaware recognizes Juneteenth as a state holiday, and there are multiples celebrations across the state. Here’s a chronological list.

Family Enrichment Program and Pageant, 3 p.m. June 13. 24th annual Delaware Juneteenth Association program. DoubleTree, 700 N. King St., Wilmington. $5-$10.

Delaware Forum on Racial History and Juneteenth, 7-8:30 p.m. June 16. Virtual forum available at de.gov/livefacebook.com/johncarneyde and youtube.com/johncarneydeWith Gov. John Carney; Donna Patterson, chair of the department of history, political science and philosophy at Delaware State University; Reba Hollingsworth, Delaware Heritage Commission; and Syl Woolford, Delaware Heritage Commission.

Juneteenth Past to Present, 6-8 p.m. June 18. Virtual forum, with registration required, sponsored by Delaware Historical Society’s Mitchell Center for African American Heritage. With Saniya Gay, a Middletown resident who was named the first national Miss Juneteenth Queen.

Freedom Seekers: The Odessa Story, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. June 19. Historic Odessa Foundation’s permanent exhibition and tour, about the Underground Railroad, is free for the day. Downtown Odessa.

Juneteenth Celebration, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. June 19. Sponsored by the Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce. Charles E. Price Memorial Park, 955 Levels Road, Middletown. Includes food, games, gifts and networking. 

Juneteenth Caravan, 10:30 a.m. June 19. Sponsored by the Delaware Juneteenth Association. Decorated cars ride the streets, leaving from Christina Park, Fourth and Church streets.

Juneteenth Observance, 2 p.m. June 19. Sponsored by the Delaware Juneteenth Association. Simpson United Methodist Church, 907 Centerville Road. With Provey Powell of Mount Joy United Methodist.

Juneteenth Festival, noon to 6 p.m. Inaugural festival sponsored by the Wilmington Library. Music, art, resource tables, vendors and food trucks. Folk artist Ted Ellis will complete a Juneteenth mural during the event. Other performances include gospel artist Eric Montae and visual artist Richard Wilson. U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester will give the welcome address. Rodney Square, downtown Wilmington.

Freedom Gala, 5 p.m. June 27. Fourth annual event benefiting the  Delaware Juneteenth Association scholarship fund. DoubleTree, 700 N. King St., Wilmington.

Time to think

Delaware State University last year built Juneteenth into its calendar as a permanent holiday. It’s marked this year on June 18. “I hope that many of you will choose to use that extended weekend, at least in part, to reflect on the sacrifices of our ancestors, the progress we have made as a nation, and the continued heavy lifting that lies ahead,” President Tony Allen wrote in a letter to the university community. 

This year, in celebration of Juneteenth and the efforts of our folks with regard to COVID and the Wesley College acquisition, we are also giving all employees off the entire week of July 5-9,” said Steve Newton, presidential fellow for media relations and executive communications.

The University of Delaware also calls it a holiday. There are no public events, but UD President Dennis Assanis encourages everyone to take the day to “reflect upon history and our contemporary society, and engage in the racial and social justice work that is critically needed to create a more just and equitable world.” 

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