Just two years ago, in the wake of George Floyd's murder by a police officer and subsequent global racial-justice protests, many Americans engulfed themselves in anti-racist books (many of which would later be banned in schools by GOP politicians like Gov. Ron DeSantis) to educate themselves on the racist systemic structures that culminated into Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin suffocating a pleading Floyd with his knee on his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. African-American customs relegated to obscurity, like Juneteenth, surfaced in the mainstream when stories about 94-year-old Texas native Opal Lee
(AKA the "grandmother of Juneteenth") highlighted her decades-long movement to make it a reserved holiday.
Last year, her efforts were finally acknowledged when President Joe Biden signed a bill, making it a federally recognized holiday. Miami-Dade County had already declared it a paid holiday in October 2020.
A fusion of the words "June" and "nineteenth," Juneteenth marks the day the last enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, were freed on June 19, 1865, two-and-a-half years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Annual regional celebrations in cities like Galveston were revived throughout the country last year, with even more events slated to take place this year. And, yes, New Times
has already witnessed cringe-worthy attempts from corporate machines trying to commercialize the holiday, such as Walmart's Juneteenth ice cream backlash
and, most recently, an Indianapolis museum issuing an apology after serving an offensive Juneteenth watermelon salad
Instead of being inundated by jubilee paper plates (conveniently positioned next to Pride mugs), here is New Times
' guide to local Juneteenth events you can attend to commemorate its significance to African-Americans.
Juneteenth Juke Joint at Adrienne Arsht Center
For its inaugural Juneteenth event, the Adrienne Arsht Center's Peacock Foundation Studio will transform the venue into a lively juke joint to pay homage to a bygone African-American era. Sponsored by Bank of America and Outclique
magazine, the one-night-only event will transport guests to those thumping backwoods vibe with live music from Miami-based R&B singer LaVie and DJ Nickymix, dancing, cocktails, and soul-food inspired bites. 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 16, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; arshtcenter.org. Tickets cost $25 to $200.
Live and Local Concert Series Presents Positively Africa at Ali Cultural Arts Center
Celebrating the rich and versatile music throughout the African diaspora, the Live and Local concert series at the Ali Cultural Arts Center in Pompano Beach will showcase the South Florida-based contemporary African band Positively Africa. In commemoration of Juneteenth, transport yourself in a soundscape of rhythmic performance fusing jazz, funk, and Afro-fusion. 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 17, at Ali Cultural Arts Center, 353 Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd., Pompano Beach; pompanobeacharts.org/cc. Admission is free with RSVP.
Juneteenth Step Show and Drumline Competition Presented by City of North Miami Beach
Highlighting HBCU culture across the country, commissioner Michael Joseph and congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson will present an inaugural Juneteenth step show and drumline competition with the theme "Juneteenth University: How We Built This." Hosted by Miami rapper Uncle Luke, university fraternities and sororities will compete for first-, second-, and third-place prizes of $3,000, $2,000, and $1,000, respectively. 6 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at Julius Littman Performing Arts Theater 17011 NE 19th Ave., North Miami Beach. Admission is free with RSVP via eventbrite.com.
Mellow Fest at Stage 954
Spoken word has become integral to African-American artistic expression, and Mellow Fest honors the art form front and center at the Casino @ Dania Beach. Featuring hip-hop artist Talib Kweli, Queen & Slim
actor Bertrand Boyd, Tony winner Georgia Me, along with other local artists, the festival will spotlight spoken word, poetry, and music at the casino in commemoration of Juneteenth. 8 p.m. Saturday, June 18 at Stage 954 at the Casino @ Dania Beach 301 E. Dania Beach Blvd., Dania Beach; casinodaniabeach.com. Tickets cost between $40 to $100.
Juneteenth Park-In and Party Celebration Presented by City of Miami Gardens
Join the City of Miami Gardens for its second-annual park-in Juneteenth celebration and learn about the city's diversity, unity, and successes via musical selections by DJ Bo Weezy and performances. Helmed by vice mayor Reggie Leon, councilwoman Katrina Wilson, and councilman Robert Stephen, the "We Are One" themed event is hosted by comedian Marvin Dixon and demonstrates the tenants of Juneteenth in the epicenter of South Florida's black culture. Guests can also purchase the Sweet Butter Experience for VIP entrance. 4 p.m. Sunday, June 19, at the Calder Casino 21001 NW 27th Ave., Miami Gardens; mgjuneteenth.com. Admission is free; VIP tickets cost $50.
Masisi Juneteenth in Partnership with HBO Max's Human by Orientation
Masisi, the Miami-based collective of Black and queer artists, is back for its annual Juneteenth celebration. In partnership with HBO Max's Human by Orientation, a platform that uplifts and celebrates the LGBTQ+ community, the collective's Juneteenth event will feature wellness workshops focusing on skincare and reiki and tarot readings, as well as panel discussions and DJ sets and performances. 4 p.m. to midnight. Sunday, June 19, at Penthouse at Riverside Wharf, 125 SW North River Dr., Miami. Admission is free with RSVP via masisi.splashthat.com.
The Juneteenth Experience at North Beach Bandshell
Hued Songs is slated to present the Juneteenth Experience, its second annual multidisciplinary Juneteenth performance honoring America's second Independence Day. Attendees can expect to experience a diverse cast of local artists and performances ranging from spoken word, song, dance, and animation that exemplifies cultural identity and what Juneteenth looks like in South Florida. 6:30 p.m. Sunday, June 19, at North Beach Bandshell 7257 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; northbeachbandshell.com. Admission is free with RSVP via eventbrite.com.
Juneteenth at Rooftop Cinema Club South Beach
Turn Juneteenth into a date night and cuddle up next to your partner at the Rooftop Cinema Club while watching cult classics like Love & Basketball
and Nia Decosta's Candyman
remake. Celebrate the African-American cinema canon with a picturesque panoramic view of South Beach's skyline, a state-of-the-art LED screen, and crisp audio from wireless headphones. Choose between a comfortable lounge seat or an Adirondack seat, and sit back, relax, and enjoy a cozy Juneteenth night. 7:15 and 10:30 p.m. Sunday, June 19, at Rooftop Cinema Club South Beach, 1212 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach; rooftopcinemaclub.com/miami. Tickets cost $19.75 to $29.75.