Chicago wouldn’t be the world-class city it is today without a long line of influential African Americans, from Jean Baptiste Point du Sable and Ida B. Wells to Harold Washington and Barack Obama. And there’s no better time to celebrate the contributions of Black people and culture than Juneteenth.

This cultural event, an official state holiday in Illinois, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. While the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on in 1863, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865, that federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to notify slaves that they were free. Celebrated on June 19 each year, Juneteenth is considered to be the longest-running African American holiday.

Here’s how to commemorate Juneteenth 2021 in Chicago:

DuSable Museum of African American History reopening: After being closed for more than a year, the nation’s first independent Black history museum is welcoming the public back with a grand reopening celebration on Juneteenth. The event includes free museum admission to all on June 19 and for the remainder of the month. June also marks the beginning of the museum’s new event series, which includes live outdoor entertainment like jazz music, dance, comedy, and more.
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Juneteenth Celebration at Hamilton Park: Local non-profit group My Block My Hood My City is hosting a free celebration in the Englewood neighborhood on June 19 from 1 – 4 p.m. The public is invited to the event, which includes a pop-up vaccination site, voter registration, free food, and a live DJ.

Juneteenth in the Ninth: This multi-site event spans the Roseland and Pullman neighborhoods, with food trucks, live performances, gallery exhibitions, giveaways, DJs, kids’ activities, and more. A free shuttle will take guests between Rose Cafe, Block House Gallery, One Eleven Food Hall, and The National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum.

Civil War to Civil Rights at Oak Woods Cemetery: The Chicago Architecture Center presents this special tour that showcases Black Chicagoans who played crucial roles during the Civil War. Join the tour on June 19 at tranquil Oak Woods Cemetery in Greater Grand Crossing, the final resting place for Harold Washington, Ida B. Wells, Jesse Owens, and more.
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Juneteenth food specials: Support local Black-owned restaurants while enjoying incredible cuisine during this two-day showcase in honor of Juneteenth. Organized by Black People Eats, more than 95 Chicago restaurants will offer food specials for either $6.19 or $16.19 on June 18 and 19.
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Bronzeville Freedom Ride: Grab your bike and join this ride through historic Bronzeville, known as Chicago’s ‘Black Metropolis’. The second annual ride begins at noon on June 19 and meets at Wintrust Arena at 200 E. Cermak Rd. Refreshments will be available for purchase at the end of the ride, and a portion of ride proceeds will go to My Block, My Hood, My City.
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The Black Girlhood Altar: Healing Sanctuary: The Weinberg/Newton Gallery will host a special Juneteenth event in collaboration with A Long Walk Home artist collective. The event includes outdoor activities, music, food, and a temporary monument to missing and murdered Black girls to be erected in the gallery’s courtyard. The event is free and open to the public.
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Chicago Dance Month events: M.A.D.D. Rhythms, the local tap dance collective celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, is performing during a special Juneteenth celebration at Harold Washington Cultural Center on June 19. This afternoon celebration includes live dance, DJs and music, complimentary food, workshops, raffles, art, and children’s activities.
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Black Culture Week: In the spirit of Juneteenth, Black Culture Week is dedicated to creating and celebrating events, businesses, and institutions for Black people, accomplishments, and culture. The week kicks off with a city-wide caravan on Friday, June 18.
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Virtual panel discussions: Cook County has planned a variety of panel discussions during the week leading up to Juneteenth, focusing on themes of culture, justice, and education. Join virtually to learn more about everything from criminal justice reform to community safety to the impact of trauma on children.
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March For Us 2021: The mission of this downtown march is to highlight systemic racism and the injustices of the police system, with plans to create accountability for public officials. The group will meet at 701 S. State St. and march to 50 W. Washington St. in the Loop.
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Virtual Juneteenth Commemoration: The Illinois Holocaust Museum is hosting a special online event about the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre, in honor of Juneteenth. Join virtually on June 17 for a powerful discussion with Phil Armstrong, project director for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission and Carlos Moreno, author of The Victory of Greenwood.
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