Juneteenth 2024: Celebrating the end of slavery in the U.S.

On June 19, Yale, New Haven, and the nation will celebrate Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Find related events and resources.
Juneteenth flag with Harkness Tower in the background

On June 19, 1865, Union Army soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to enforce the freedom of enslaved people there. President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation more than two years earlier, but enslavers in some parts of the country ignored it.

While slavery did not finally end across the United States until the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment on Dec. 6, 1865, June 19 came to be commemorated in many African-American communities as a “second Independence Day.” In 2021 it became a federally recognized U.S. holiday, which Yale honors also.

Here you can find information about Juneteenth and related events happening on and around Yale’s campus, as well as other opportunities and resources to celebrate, reflect, and learn.

Around New Haven

New Haven’s International Festival of Arts and Ideas — in collaboration with partners including Yale University, the Official Juneteenth Coalition of Greater New Haven, and the local Artsucation Academy Network — is hosting several free Juneteenth celebrations and other events for people of all ages:

Friday, June 14, 7 p.m., New Haven Green — The “Juneteenth Celebration” will offer a lively musical celebration of liberation and joy by the New Haven All-Stars, featuring The Keepers of the Culture Performing Arts Company, Manny James and Soulclectic, and The Rahsaan Langley Project.

Saturday, June 15, noon, New Haven Green ­— “Juneteenth Village,” a family-friendly pop-up festival hosted by the mother-son duo Mama Ngina and Rahsaan Langley, will include games, musical performances, educational presentations, an elder honoring ceremony, and more.

Sunday, June 16, 9:30 a.m., New Haven Green — A “Juneteenth Bike Tour” will lead participants on a 12-mile ride showcasing New Haven’s rich community of Black creativity and innovation, past and present. The ride will take in key historical and cultural landmarks where Africans and African Americans have left their imprint on the history of New Haven and beyond. (Registration required.)

Sunday, June 16, 11 a.m., Yale Schwarzman Center, 168 Grove St., lower-level Dance Studio — “EveryBody Dances with Dr. Hanan Hameen,” a special presentation of the Yale Schwarzman Center’s weekly dance masterclass series, will explore traditional celebratory Afrodiasporic dances from the Caribbean and West Africa. (Registration required.)

Tuesday, June 18, 11 a.m., New Haven Museum, 114 Whitney Ave. — “Shining Light on Truth: New Haven, Yale, and Slavery” offers a guided tour of the New Haven Museum exhibition of the same name, led by co-curator and Beinecke Library staff member Michael Morand. The exhibition complements the publication of the book “Yale and Slavery: A History,” authored by Yale historian David W. Blight with the Yale and Slavery Research Project, and draws from the research project’s key findings.   

Wednesday, June 19, noon, New Haven Green — “Constance Baker Motley Stamp” invites kids of all ages to join Constance L. Royster and New Haven educator Katlyn Rapini for a moderated Q&A discussing the life of Constance Baker Motley, the first Black female federal judge and a highly accomplished civil rights attorney. The United States Postal Service issued a Forever Stamp in honor of Motley in January as part of its “Black Heritage” series. The Q&A will be followed by a stamp design workshop.

Watch, listen, and read

Explore the history of Juneteenth and the contributions of African Americans, and reflect on the work against racism that still remains, through educational resources curated by the Yale Office of the Secretary and Vice President for University Life.

Belonging at Yale’s “Focus on Juneteenth” page offers a collection of events, media, and other opportunities to educate ourselves and continue the fight for justice.

At the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, “Douglass, Baldwin, Harrington” — an exhibition on view through Sunday, July 7 — draws from the library’s Walter O. Evans Collection to celebrate three towering figures of Black history, art, and culture: Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin, and Ollie Harrington.

The Beinecke also holds a collection of films on American life in the 1920s recorded by African-American Baptist minister and filmmaker Rev. Solomon Sir Jones. The collection includes remarkable footage of a 1925 parade celebrating Juneteenth in Texas (see below). The entire collection can be viewed online.

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