Juneteenth, now a federal holiday, commemorates the date Union soldiers arrived in Galveston to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, which President Abraham Lincoln had signed into law almost two and a half years earlier.
Texas was the last state after the Civil War to allow enslavement. Juneteenth has been a state holiday since 1980.
City Hall and most city offices will be closed Monday, as will Metro Health clinics, senior and community centers, and all branch libraries.
As celebrations gear up and June 19 nears, Visit San Antonio has compiled a list of Black-owned restaurants in San Antonio. Here’s a list of where and how you can celebrate:
What is Juneteenth?: An Online Learning Experience
On Thursday, June 16, and again on Monday, June 20 at 7 p.m., Melaneyes Media, a San Antonio independent film company, is hosting a virtual class on the history of Juneteenth. Tickets are donation-based. The Zoom event will be interactive; viewers can participate in two pop quizzes, watch rare footage of celebrations that date to the early 1900’s, plus interviews from scholars and more. A live Q&A will follow.
Texas Freedom Festival’s Juneteenth Emancipation Day Celebration
Now in its 26th year, the festival runs Friday and through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day at Comanche Park. At the reunion-like event, attendees can expect music, plenty of food available to purchase, entertainment, basketball and domino tournaments, and arts and crafts for children.
On Friday, Black residents are encouraged to bring family documents, such as photographs, birth and death announcements, journals and yearbooks to volunteers with San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum (SAAACAM) at the park, who will digitally preserve these records as part of its “history harvesting” project.
On Saturday, the city will offer health screenings and wellness information until 2 p.m. Sunday’s festival includes a “Gospel Church in the Park” celebration. Admission is free.
Enjoy an evening of Black art, music, history and food at Legacy Park, 103 W. Houston St., hosted by In the Eye of the Beholder art gallery and SAAACAM, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday night.
The Juneteenth Family Festival
On Saturday, June 18, Perpetual Innovations Entertainment and the Impact Network host their inaugural Juneteenth Family Festival at the Real Life Amphitheater in Selma. The festival kicks off at 8 a.m. with a 5K, for which a $30 registration is required. Prizes, medals and gift cards will be given to winners of the race.
The opening ceremony and two symposiums, one on marriage and the other for singles, is free; tickets for the carnival and concerts — featuring Tim Bowman and Grammy Award-winning artists Erica Campbell and Fred Hammond — may be purchased here. Parking is free.
SA Juneteenth Block Party and Fair
Starting at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Alamo Beer Company in Dignowity Hill. The event is free but attendees are asked to reserve tickets online. A portion of the funds raised will go to support the educational and community efforts of the Dream Big Scholarship Fund. Bring lawn chairs or blankets; event will include food trucks, vendors, a kids’ play area with a bounce house and face painting and a photo booth. DJs will be spinning old school hip hop and R&B. Education, business and health resources will be available through community partners, sponsors and vendors.
Juneteenth & Summer Solstice Farmers Market
Community First Health Plans and Gardopia Gardens, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing accessibility to fresh produce, are hosting a free farmer’s market Saturday from 6 – 9 p.m. Fresh produce will be available along with local vendors, music and educational workshops at Gardopia Gardens, 619 N. New Braunfels Ave.
Juneteenth Night at the Missions
Watch the San Antonio Missions go head to head with the Amarillo Sod Poodles at the Nelson Wolff Stadium starting at 7 p.m. Saturday night. The fundraiser event, which will celebrate the contributions African Americans have made to baseball, will benefit the Texas Kidney Foundation and SAAACAM.
VIP tickets are $75, which include a meet and greet with South Texas Negro League players; an all-you-can-eat buffet; the Invisible Diamond exhibit, which commemorates the unknown players who led to the integration of Major League Baseball; and access to the Negro League memorabilia silent auction.
Juneteenth: Faith & Freedom documentary screenings
On Sunday at 3 p.m., the Alamo will host a free screening of “Juneteenth: Faith and Freedom.” Before the screening, attendees will hear from Trinity University Professor Carey Latimore, who is featured in the documentary.
On Monday, June 20, at 2 p.m., the documentary will be screened again, at the Tobin Center’s H-E-B Performance Hall. Hosted by County Judge Nelson Wolff and Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores, the afternoon will include a panel discussion with Latimore; San Antonio Poet Laureate Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson, who will be performing “Freedom Day,” an original piece she wrote for the film; filmmaker and professor Ya’Ke Smith; and Rasool Berry, the film’s director. Admission is free, and includes free parking in the Tobin garage.
The documentary tells the story of Juneteenth through the eyes of a Black man learning about the holiday from the descendants of those who were liberated. Starting in Galveston, where the liberation was first announced, the film moves on to Houston, the site of Freedmen’s Town, and then Dallas, and included interviews with historians, artists, community organizers and faith leaders.
This article has been updated to correct that most city offices will be closed in observation of Juneteenth on Monday, and Texas Freedom Festival’s Juneteenth celebration will be held at Comanche Park.