Where to celebrate Juneteenth in Long Beach this weekend

This weekend Long Beach will celebrate Juneteenth, designated a “Day of Celebration” in Long Beach and a federal holiday as of last year, with performances, music, spoken word and more in Downtown and at other events throughout the city this weekend.

Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom that commemorates June 19, 1865, the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, announcing that the Civil War had ended and those who were enslaved were now free. The Emancipation Proclamation, which was enacted two years earlier in 1963, had established that all slaves in confederate land were free. But in reality, the proclamation did not instantly free enslaved people in states that were part of the Union or had little involvement in the war, such as Texas. As such, Juneteenth is considered and commemorated as the effective end to slavery in America.

The city’s largest in-person event for the holiday, the Long Beach Juneteenth Celebration, on Saturday, June 18, will be at Rainbow Lagoon waterfront with myriad festivities celebrating Black culture. Some highlights include performances by the Antioch Church Mass Choir, the Dorsey High School Drum Line and Drill Team and a West African drums and dance show by Dembrebrah dance ensemble.

“The Long Beach Juneteenth Celebration is about joyfully celebrating Black culture, honoring our history, and creating a space for community unity,” Carl Kemp, founder and producer of the festival, said in a release. “We will take folks on a journey through Black culture, starting with African drums and dance, and ending with A-list R&B musicians and everything in between.”

The day will also feature spoken word poets, stand-up comedy, and family-friendly activities, such as face painting and arts and crafts. The event is free to attend but is sold out. However, adults may RSVP on a waitlist, click here.

Other events taking place in Long Beach:

3rd Annual Juneteenth Weekend (Friday – Sunday):

Flyer courtesy Urban Society Long Beach and the CRay Project.

Hosted by the CRay Project and the Urban Society Long Beach, locals can check out three unique events celebrating Juneteenth at locations throughout the city. The Urban Connect on Friday, June 16, at On the Rocks Bar and Grill (5755 Pacific Coast Highway) is a career networking mixer and simultaneous celebration hosted by Project Optimism, a nonprofit focused on re-balancing the achievement gap in underserved communities.  Click here to RSVP for free.

On Saturday, the shopping and dining center, Urban Commons in North Long Beach (6600 Atlantic Ave.), will celebrate with a free block party with music, vendors and performers from 5-9 p.m. A motorcade featuring cars decorated with Juneteenth pride has also been organized and will kick off at 4:30 p.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Park (1950 Lemon Ave.) and make its way to Uptown Commons. Click here for more information.

Sunday’s celebration on June 19 includes an R&B Brunch at Shannon’s At the Top (201 Pine Ave.) with brunch food and mimosas. Click here for more information.

Juneteenth at Long Beach City College (Saturday):

Flyer courtesy Long Beach City College.

Long Beach City College’s Liberal Arts Campus invites the community to check out their celebration featuring music and dance performances that celebrate the Black experience.

The event, which is from noon to 4 p.m., will also feature free food and a resource fair. The celebration is free to attend and free parking is available in parking lots F, G, H and I.

Long Beach City College Liberal Arts Campus is at 4801 E. Carson St.

Juneteenth x Father Day Movie Screenings (Sunday):


Since Juneteenth also falls on Father’s Day this year, the Art Theatre of Long Beach in tandem with the Arts Council for Long Beach and youth-oriented nonprofit O.C.E.A.N., has created a special event celebrating Black fathers in film. Beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 19, the theater will show “Hair Love” and “The Last Black Man in San Francisco.”

Tickets for the screening cost $2.50 (including fees), click here for more information and to snag tickets.

The Art Theatre of Long Beach is at 2025 E. Fourth St.

Juneteenth Celebration at the Aquarium of the Pacific (Sunday):

Baba the Storyteller will speak and perform at the Juneteenth Celebration at the Aquarium of the Pacific Sunday, June 19. Photo courtesy Aquarium of the Pacific.

The Aquarium of the Pacific will be hosting a story time and music by Baba the Storyteller in honor of Juneteenth. Baba will teach about the history and significance of the holiday through music, song and lecture.

To see the event in-person guests will need to purchase a ticket to the Aquarium and RSVP in advance. The aquarium will also be hosting a live stream on its YouTube page. Click here for more information.

The Aquarium of the Pacific is at 100 Aquarium Way.

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Cheantay Jensen is reporter and award-winning videographer who covers entertainment, art, food and culture for the Hi-lo section of the Long Beach Post. And sometimes breaking news, you know, just to keep things interesting.
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