Celebrate Emancipation

Juneteenth 2023

Commemorate African-American heritage and emancipation at Maryland's longest running Juneteenth celebration.

Juneteenth Tours @ Historic Sotterley

Thursday, June 15th to Sunday, June 18th

Experience a special guided tour at Historic Sotterley this Juneteenth weekend that focuses on the lives and stories of those who were enslaved there.

Learn how the enslaved maintained their identities while their freedom was denied, and visit the original 19th-century slave quarters where they lived. Discover the resilience and strength of the families and communities they created, and how many took their freedom. Explore how life changed at Sotterley after the abolition of slavery, and reflect upon the lives of those who did not live to gain their freedom.

Find more information and tour times here.

Mulberry Music Festival @ St. Mary's College of Maryland

Friday, June 16th from 6-9pm

Celebrate Juneteenth weekend with an evening of joyous expression and uplifting beats at the free Mulberry Music Festival. Oh He Dead, Kevin Howard, The Boneshakers, and The JoGo Project take the stage outdoors on the Townhouse Green performing everything from jazz to soul to funk and rock. Bring a lawn chair or blanket to settle in for the performances. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

Find more information about the festival here.

UCAC Juneteenth Celebration @ John G. Lancaster Park

Saturday, June 17th from 12pm-6:30pm

Join the Unified Committee For Afro-American Contributions at a family-friendly celebration of Emancipation Day. At the Interpretive Center, speakers will explore the significance of Juneteenth. All are welcome to spend the day in the park enjoying live music, food, and community.

Find more information about the celebration here.

Free Open House @ Drayden African American Schoolhouse

Saturday, June 17th to Monday, June 19th from 11am-2pm

Drayden, one of the nation's best-preserved one-room African American schoolhouses and a significant cultural site, is hosting free open houses in honor of Juneteenth. Explore the stories of students who attended Drayden and understand the hardships they had to face during an era of segregated education.

About Juneteenth

on June 19, 1865, in Galveston, the people of Texas were informed by Major General Gordon Granger and backed by 1,800 troops of the Union Army that in accordance with a Proclamation, General Order No. 3, issued from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This proclamation announced the end of the Civil War and the freedom of enslaved peoples in the State of Texas. This involved absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them became that between employer and free laborer. While Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had gone into effect on January 1, 1863, emancipating all enslaved people in those states in rebellion against the United States, the decree had not yet taken effect in Texas due to its distance from Union armies.

That evening, thousands of people in Galveston celebrated their freedom with dancing, singing, and feasting. In the years that followed, other southern cities also began to organize Juneteenth festivities. It was not until January 1, 1980, however, that Juneteenth was designated an official state holiday in Texas. Through the efforts of African American state legislator Al Edwards, Juneteenth became the first emancipation celebration granted official state recognition.

Today, Juneteenth is celebrated not only in Texas but in cities throughout the United States. In 2021, President Joseph R. Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Juneteenth activities include picnics, parades, barbecues, ball games, and family reunions. It is also a time for people to recount the events of the past. Today Juneteenth has taken on a more national perspective, celebrating African-American freedom while encouraging self-development and respect for all cultures.

Learn more about Juneteenth here.

Explore Other African American History & Heritage Sites