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Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable bust statue.
Photograph: Shutterstock

10 ways to celebrate Juneteenth in Chicago this weekend

Check out all the best festivals, rallies and parties on June 19 and beyond.

Emma Krupp
Written by
Emma Krupp
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In the span of just six months, Juneteenth has been made a county, state and—as of June 17—federal holiday, giving workers paid time off to honor the date (June 19) on which Black Americans in Texas were finally emancipated from slavery as the Civil War came to an end. The holiday has evolved over the years to include broader celebrations of Black culture in America; in Chicago, it's also a time to recognize the city-defining legacy of the Black Chicagoans like Ida B. Wells, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, Margaret T. Burroughs and Harold Washington, plus countless others.  

This year marks the 156th anniversary of Juneteenth, and many` local institutions have planned programming that champions everything from Black-owned restaurants to the history of the holiday. Take a look through some of the best events, parties and commemorations honoring Juneteenth in Chicago this weekend. 

1. Dine on Juneteenth restaurant deals: For the second year in a row, Black People Eats has mapped out more than 130 Black-owned restaurants in Chicago offering Juneteenth dining deals for $6.19 or $16.19 a plate. Feast on meals like a vegan fish sandwich from Plant Based Junkie, mini rib tips from Lem's BBQ (on Friday only), apple cobbler from Brown Sugar Bakery and plenty of other dishes from Black-owned businesses across the city. Various locations throughout Chicago. June 18–20

2. DuSable Museum Juneteenth Reopening: The DuSable Museum of African American History is opening its doors to the public for the first time in more than a year with an afternoon of outdoor cultural festivities in celebration of Juneteenth and its 60th anniversary, featuring a lineup of music, dance and art performances from poet-artist avery r. young, musicians Angel Bat Dawid and Hieroglyphic Being, the Chicago Sinfonietta and more local luminaries. The museum will offer free admission both on Juneteenth and for the rest of June—pop into to catch exhibitions on the life of former Chicago mayor Harold Washington and an immersive look at the 1963 March on Washington rendered through virtual reality technology, among other attractions. DuSable Museum. June 19 from 11am to 4pm, free

3. Juneteenth at the Park District: City parks throughout Chicago will host various Juneteenth celebrations over the weekend, from a youth rally at Columbus Park on Friday to dance performances at Garfield Park on Saturday. For a full list of events, visit the park district's website. Various locations throughout Chicago. June 18–20, free.

4. March for Us 2021: Last year marked the first-ever March for Us, which called for Juneteenth to be made a paid city, state and federal holiday and honored the lives of people killed by police and gun violence during a march throughout downtown Chicago. This year's rally will celebrate the legislative achievements made since then and continue its calls against injustice with a march, rally and press conference. Meet near Jones College Prep at 10:30am—the march will kick off there before working up to Daley Plaza, where programming will commence at 11am. Jones College Prep. June 19 at 10:30am, free 

5. Juneteenth Black Mall MarketHead to this free pop-up market hosted by event planning group Thank You Chicago at The Promontory in Hyde Park for a few hours of shopping the wares of Black-owned businesses, with vendors offering beauty products, fashion items and more. Vendors like Bougie Vino, Meraki Clothing and Luna Sol will be in attendance, and food trucks will also be on hand in case you get hungry. The Promontory. June 19 from 2pm to 7pm, free

6. Juneteenth Neighborhood Walk in BronzevilleJoin the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago Area and Northwest Indiana for a stroll along the Bronzeville Walk of Fame, a strip of Martin Luther King Drive that honors 91 Black Chicagoans from throughout history, like Ida B. Wells and Gwendolyn Brooks. Meet at the Walgreens at 3405 S King Drive for registration; the walk will kick off at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Branch Library at 3436 S King Drive. Snacks (and plenty of photo ops) will be provided along the route. 3405 S King Drive. June 19 from 10am to noon, $2

7. Lake Park Fired Up – Juneteenth: Throughout the pandemic lockdown last year, local musicians Jean-Paul Coffy and Yakini Ajanaku performed nightly, multi-genre concerts from the porch of their North Kenwood home, a beloved neighborhood series that came to be known as Lake Park Fired Up. The couple is returning to their porch this Saturday for a Juneteenth-inspired installment of Lake Park Fired Up, complete with line dancing, children's activities, poetry readings and food for purchase from the Soul & Smoke food truck. Bring a lawn chair and a mask! 4500 S Lake Park Ave. June 19 from 12pm to 3pm, free

8. Resounding Liberty: Remembering JuneteenthWant to learn more about the origins and legacy of the holiday? You can visit the Chicago History Museum for free on Juneteenth, but tune in on YouTube to catch Resounding Liberty: Remembering Juneteenth, an informative selection of programming that includes a performance recounting the life of Harriet B. Tubman, culinary talks on the history of Juneteenth dishes and modern African American cooking as well as a round table discussion about the impact of Juneteenth with local historians, writers and museum officials. Online and screened at the Chicago History Museum. June 19 from 11am to 3pm, free 

9. Freedom Ride Bronzeville: The second annual Freedom Ride Bronzeville pays tribute to Juneteenth with a two-hour bike ride through historic Bronzeville, with a portion of proceeds from the donation-only tickets going to nonprofit My Block, My Hood, My City. Meet at Wintrust Arena in the South Loop with your bike; the ride will continue all the way to The Renaissance Bronzeville. Wintrust Arena. June 19 from noon to 2pm, donations recommended

10. 1865 FestivalThis inaugural three-day festival at Garfield Park kicks off on Friday with a military honors ceremony (you can RSVP for that here) before proceeding with two days of concerts, cultural workshops and family-friendly activities—catch performances from artists like Donte Hall, D-Low, Spinzo and Chanelle Tru at the Garfield Park Golden Dome and Music Circle. Music Circle Ct and S Woodward Dr. June 19, 20 from 11am–8pm, free

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