Celebrate Black Community and Culture at the Inaugural Juneteenth Festival

May 19, 2021

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A coalition of local organizations invites the community to be a part of the first annual Chapel Hill-Carrboro Juneteenth Celebration. Planning partners include the Towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Office of Equity and Inclusion, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, the Marion Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History, and many others. The event will celebrate Black community and culture through arts performances, history exhibits, kids activities, and more.

Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day, commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. The Towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro proclaimed the observance and commemoration of Juneteenth on June 19, 2020 and encouraged residents and employers to recognize the holiday. Dawna Jones, President of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, is excited to partner in the community celebration saying “We look forward to more recognition of Black history, the struggle for equality, and the legacy of leadership Black people have contributed to both Towns. This community celebration will be a great opportunity to do just that, and we are happy to be a part of it.”

This year’s event will be mostly virtual, with a limited number of in-person and hybrid offerings. Here’s a peek at what to expect:

On Friday, June 18, the event will kick-off at 7:00 p.m. with an online video premiere featuring greetings and remarks from local leaders, and performances from Poets Laureate CJ Suitt and Fred Joiner and Durham-based country music singer Rissi Palmer. Following the video premiere, Pulitzer-Prize winning author and scholar Annette Gordon-Reed will talk about her new book “On Juneteenth” through a live and virtual Flyleaf Books program.

On Saturday, June 19, the community is invited to decorate vehicles and join the Juneteenth Motorcade at 4:00 p.m. Two routes will allow participants to drive through historic Black neighborhoods and share the Juneteenth spirit.

Local Music Performances

Juneteenth weekend will feature a variety of online and in-person music performances from Triangle-based talents. Headlining the virtual space are R&B powerhouse SunQueen Kelcey, Jazz legend Lydia Salett Dudley, Hip-Hop pioneer Kevin “Kaze” Thomas, and Gospel group Souls of Joy. Performances will be available to stream online starting Saturday, June 19. In-person busking performances will also take place along Franklin Street on Saturday night, as part of Downtown Chapel Hill’s Save The Music series. Stay tuned for the full line-up revealed closer to the event.

Eat & Shop at Black-Owned Businesses

Black-owned businesses will be highlighted all weekend long through a scavenger hunt style digital challenge – encouraging the community to answer trivia and complete ‘missions’ for a chance to win prizes. The contest is made possible by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP in partnership with Carolina Chamber and EmPOWERment.

Discover Local History

The community is invited to listen, read, watch, and learn about Black history through digital and in-person exhibits. Chapel Hill Public Library’s historical showcase, I Was Still Singing, will activate 109 East Franklin Street with appearances from the living history makers. Save the date to visit the pop-up on weekends in June.

Of and For The Youth

Piedmont laureate and children’s book author Kelly Starling Lyons and storyteller Donna Washington will offer virtual storytimes for kids of all ages available throughout the Juneteenth weekend. Recorded performances from artist-led student workshops will also be available to stream.

Learn More

Experience all this and more during Chapel Hill-Carrboro’s inaugural Juneteenth celebration. Regular updates will be shared via social media and the official website at chapelhillcarrborojuneteenth.com. This event is made possible through collaboration with several local organizations.