Juneteenth is now a federal holiday. How can I celebrate in Miami?

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Are you tired of dealing with a perpetual loop of Zoom meetings and Wi-Fi connectivity issues?

Well, you can step outside this weekend and enjoy South Florida’s sunny 90-degree weather while donning those immaculate red, black and green outfits (or listen to a few podcast episodes, more on that later) — thanks to a new bill signed by President Joe Biden.

Miami lawmaker Rep. Frederica Wilson on Thursday witnessed President Biden sign the bill that made Juneteenth the first federal holiday to be nationally recognized since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.

Since many companies across the country now are giving its staffers paid time off June 18 and 19, what are your plans? We’ve got you covered and there’s a ton of options this year.

Here’s your guide to how you can get involved and celebrate Juneteenth to commemorate its 156th anniversary.


But first: what is this new federal holiday and how did it come to be celebrated?

June 19, also known as Juneteenth or Emancipation Day, marks the day when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned from Union soldiers they were free two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 — setting more than three million enslaved people free. The African Americans, who were enslaved, celebrated with food, music and prayer.

A year later on the same day, similar celebrations including gathering with family and dancing, began in Texas and continued as the activities spread to African Americans outside of the state. However, Juneteenth wasn’t recognized as a state holiday until 1980. North Miami Beach became the first city in Miami-Dade County to declare it a municipal, paid holiday on April 8.


The Association of African American Museums (AAAM) is thrilled that Juneteenth is a federal holiday but its Executive Director feels education doesn’t end with the holiday’s new status.

“Our AAAM members have been serving their respective communities virtually and in person for several decades, it’s refreshing to see that the emancipation of enslaved people throughout the United States is being celebrated in a way that can bring people together on a national level,” Executive Director Vedet Coleman-Robinson wrote in an email.

Coleman-Robinson added that members of AAAM serve in communities challenged by a double pandemic, which refers to the COVID-19 pandemic and the social injustice and racism they encountered last summer. AAAM’s museums continued to face adversity and stand strong while offering solace to those hit hard by trauma, officials said. So, Coleman-Robinson noted that Juneteenth being recognized like this is just the beginning and “we are poised to support and serve.”

“No matter the adversity, [we] will continue to be the beacons of hope in our respective communities and will continue to make certain that African American history and culture is preserved, interpreted, and protected for the entire nation,” she wrote.

Gale Nelson, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami believes a lot has changed since last summer but this holiday is a “launching pad” for more social justice progress.

“We learn from history, and then do something about it now. We cannot get stuck in a time warp,” he said.

In fact, Nelson is airing his “Game of Life” podcast series at 9 a.m. Friday on YouTube to honor Juneteenth. He emphasized that these conversations intend to take a middle-grounded approach and are inspiring, factual and educational.

Instead of debating with people who don’t think it should be a holiday, Nelson feels that it’s about using history to learn and take action to support each other now.

“It’s not about us versus them. It’s let us celebrate diversity and recognize that there’s much more to be gained than to take this adversarial position about a real historical fact that impacts people of color, even to this day,” he added.

On June 25 at 4 p.m., the BBBS is hosting a “Bigs in Blue” match event with the Miami Dade Police Department that pairs children with 20 officers as honorary participants. It will be held at the Miami nonprofit’s headquarters 550 NW 42nd Ave. and is invitation-only.

“Not only have we made advances we have clearly moved the needle,” he said. “We have folks investing... We need to make sure that this is not just a moment, but a consistent sustainable movement, so that our kids will not only see but be a part of the solution.”


  • Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is kicking off the holiday weekend today at 7 p.m. with a free outdoor event that will last until midnight at PAMM’s East Portico. “Juneteenth Weekend Kickoff with Afropunk” includes live art and music with DJ LaNegra Fabulosa and DJ Kumi. A screening of “AFROPUNK BLACK SPRING” will follow the DJ’s music on the waterfront terrace. Register for no charge here. For more information on museum hours and admission, which is discounted at $10, visit this website.

  • Bulldozing Barriers: Reflections of Juneteenth and Diversity in Miami is on Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Hampton Art Lovers Gallery at 249 Northwest 9th Street. The Miami Coalition of Christians and Jews (MCCJ), a nonprofit organization promoting equality and diversity, is hosting this panel discussion about racial fears, progress and inclusivity to “encourage continuous self-development and respect not just for the black community, but for all cultures.” This is part of a series called “Can We Talk, Can We Really Talk?” All races, religions and cultures are welcome to attend and can buy tickets here for $35 per person. After the discussion, attendees can come to Hampton Art Lovers, which is a nonprofit art gallery celebrating Black art, to view a “One Way” exhibit.

Some of the panelists are:

• Marilyn Holifield, Partner, Holland & Knight and MCCJ Silver Medallion winner

• Saif Ishoof, Vice President for FIU Engagement and MCCJ Silver Medallion winner

• Matthew Beatty, COO Carrie Meek Foundation

• Pamela Fuertes, Executive Director, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program at Miami Dade College

• Deborah Koch, Executive Director at American Red Cross of Greater Miami

• Kathryn Mikesell, Founder, Fountainhead Residency

• Esther Park, Vice President of Programming Oolite Arts

• Matt Anderson, Executive Director, MCCJ (Moderator)

  • Rosie’s is hosting a Juneteenth brunch party on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The pop-up restaurant in Overtown at 439 NW Fourth Ave. is starting with breakfast and following with drinks at 10 a.m. and featuring DJ Spinelli.

  • AAAM is celebrating with Step Afrika! Juneteenth Virtual Celebration virtually on Saturday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Facebook and YouTube. The online event celebrates “and embodies the determination, resilience, and reclamation of freedom with newly filmed choreographic masterpieces inspired by the African American experience.” For more information or to register, see this website.

  • The Coral Gables Art Cinema is screening “I Am Not Your Negro” at 1:30 p.m. Saturday to observe Juneteenth. Edson Jean, the curator who is a Haitian-American filmmaker and is the 2020 Oolite Arts Cinematic Arts Resident, is introducing the film and holding a discussion after it ends. Adults are $11.75. Buy tickets here.

  • Juneteenth Miami is hosting the fourth annual Freedom Fry & Dance Festival 2021 in Miami Gardens starting at 5 p.m. on Saturday with food, music and “family fun.” The free event celebrates “American Values of Freedom, Progress and Unity.” The organization is teaming up with Miami Gardens Councilwoman Katrina Wilson and A. Randolph & The Smash Room will headline the event. “In 2021, we plan to celebrate this holiday larger than Miami ever has,” the registration site read. To attend you must register online here because the independent event is now partnering with the city of Miami Gardens.

  • The Fourth Annual Juneteenth Food & Music Weekend Celebration in Overtown, hosted by The Hungry Black Man, a popular food blog, features music and entertainment and food (including vegan food) for three days. It all begins on Friday at 8 p.m. with the Third Annual Black Music Month Juneteenth Chef Cypher and Concert at 937 NW Third Ave. until midnight. On Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. at The Sand Bowl at Bandshell Park at 7275 Collins Ave., the Eighth Annual Juneteenth Food and Music Festival on the Beach will take place. The weekend events will end with a Father’s Day award and dinner with Udonis Haslem from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 800 Degrees Woodfired Kitchen located at 2956 NE 199th St. in Aventura. Guests should wear masks and social distance. RSVP or find out more here. All events are free except for the Sunday dinner.

  • Florida International University is holding its first Juneteenth Freedom Day Celebration on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Open and free for anyone, you can gather on the Earlene and Albert Dotson Pavilion Lawn at the MARC building. The event includes Phillip and Patricia Frost Art Museum FIU

  • exhibits and activities, music by DJ OSOCITY and Curtis Lundy, local artisan vendors, food trucks and raffles. You must register to attend.

  • Juneteenth Celebration Art Showcase, is a free event displaying Black art and is open to the public at 6 p.m. on Saturday. For more information or to register, click here.

  • Villain Theater is hosting the Black Is The New Black Stand-Up Comedy Show Juneteenth Edition at 5865 NE Second Ave. from 8:30 to 10 p.m. on Saturday. Temperature checks are given at the door and you must wear a mask when you’re not eating. If you don’t have one, organizers will hand you one. Social distancing is also required. Tickets are $15 to $20. You can find more information or buy them online here.

  • Miami Dade College’s Tower Theater is holding a screening of WADE IN THE WATER: DROWNING IN RACISM for Juneteenth and following with a discussion. The free event begins at 8 p.m. and lasts until 9 p.m. at 1508 SW Eighth St. You can find more information or register here.

  • Juneteenth Drive-In Celebration, presented by the City of Miami Gardens and hosted by Comedian Marvin Dixon, is Saturday at 5 p.m. at Calder Casino located at 21001 NW 27th Ave. Register for the free event here.

  • Juneteenth, a Liberation Celebration” will take place on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Julius Littman Performing Arts Theater at 17011 NE 19th Ave. The City of North Miami Beach is hosting the event, which will include speakers and feature family activities like a candle-making station and a liberation soul brunch with cocktails and soul food.

  • The Roots Collective Black House is hosting a Juneteenth Block Party and Day of Service on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at 5525 NW Seventh Ave. There will be food, music and kids and community sections. Click here for more information about the event.