Let’s be honest: white Americans have a lot of gaps when it comes to Black history. Last summer, as the entire country reckoned with race in America, many white people learned about Juneteenth for the first time. This year, recognition of Juneteenth continues to broaden—the House of Representatives just voted to make it a national holiday.
A sort of second Independence Day, Juneteenth commemorates emancipation from slavery. On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger declared the end of slavery in Texas more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation and weeks after the American Civil War ended. (Texas was so far west that news didn’t travel quickly.) Since then, Juneteenth has spread from Texas-based celebrations to a holiday celebrated more widely by Black people across the U.S.
Here in Utah, there are lots of ways to celebrate Juneteenth while supporting Black artists, businesses and community leaders.
June 19, 8 p.m., Gallivan Center
This free concert hosted by Excellence in the Community can be enjoyed live at the Gallivan Center or streaming at home. Vocalist Dee-Dee Darby Duffin has been a longtime Utah favorite for her interpretations of jazz, soul and blues standards like “Feeling Good” and “Strange Fruit.” (Plus she’s a playwright and actress too.)
June 19, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Aggie Legacy Fields
Utah State University’s celebration will include a community BBQ and a Unity Kickball Game at 1 p.m. You’ll also be able to sign the petition to make Juneteenth a national holiday. USU is asking participants to park at the Big Blue Terrace or at the University Inn and look for the Juneteenth banner and signs to get to the event.
June 19, 6 p.m., The Complex
The concert is promised to lean heavy on the dance music, featuring Icky Rogers,
The Pho3nix Child, Cherry Thomas and DJ Juggy. There will also be plenty to eat with a handful of food trucks, including Jamaica’s Kitchen, Shrimp Shak and Mas Gorditas.
June 19, 1 p.m.–3 p.m., march; 3 p.m.–7 p.m., market; 5 p.m.–9 p.m., block party; Washington Square
Juneteenth Utah, Strength of Shades and POC Market are celebrating Juneteenth with a march, pop-up market and block party. The event will begin with a march, then a market highlighting BIPOC-owned businesses and closes with live performances and music. This is the second celebration from Juneteenth Utah and the theme this year is Summer of Love.
June 19 at 7 p.m., 8 p.m.-10 p.m. cocktail and appetizers, 11 p.m. – 2 a.m. concert and dance Party; at The Leonardo
The Gala promises to celebrate the history, tradition and contributions of African-Americans in Utah through art, music and live performances.
June 19, noon-9 p.m.; June 20, noon-8 p.m.; Ogden Amphitheater
On June 19, Weber University’s Juneteenth festival will have musical performances, featuring national recording artist Young DRO, Kansas City Songbird, Zenobia Smith and many local and regional artists. The Mr. & Miss Juneteenth Scholarship Pageant and Juneteenth Essay Contest winners will also be announced. There is also the promise of a host of other activities for all ages in a safe environment. The June 20 Father’s Day Tribute will feature the 2nd Annual Willie Moore & Billy Mason “Golden Clipper” Barber Battle and, for the first time this year, the “Crowns” Braiding Battle.
June 20, 7 p.m. at The Clubhouse
Support both Utah’s Black and queer communities at this fundraiser concert hosted by W.A.R. Gathering and sponsored by Utah Pride Center, Project Rainbow and SLUG Magazine. The concert features Shea Freedom, Wynter Storm, Honey and Early Sucessional. Part of the proceeds benefit BIPOC at the Front, which supports climbers of color in Utah, and GenderBands, an Orem-based nonprofit that aids trans people with gender-affirming surgery costs.
Through June 22, Utah Film Center
Celebrate Juneteenth with a newly restored document of Black history and a celebration of the incomparable Queen of Soul. Utah Film Center is streaming the documentaries Nationtime and Amazing Grace for free this week. Nationtime, a 1972 film from legendary documentarian William Greaves, follows the National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana. The controversial film was considered too radical for TV back in the ‘70s, and the full version of the film was made public for the first time last year. Amazing Grace goes behind-the-scenes on a very different history-making 1972 event: Aretha Franklin’s recording of the classic gospel album also called Amazing Grace.
June 26, noon–9 p.m., The Gateway
This is a free, family-friendly community celebration, featuring a Black Owned Business Expo as vendors, plus an art exhibit, food trucks, music, entertainment, a kids’ corner, storytelling, roller skating, movie night and barber battle.
While you’re here, subscribe to our print magazine.