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How to Celebrate Juneteenth in the Bay Area—at Home or Outside

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Marcus Shelby leads a Zoom presentation of live music, readings and poetry delving into Juneteenth's history and its resonance today. (MoAD)

As the country enters a third week of constant protests over the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and reckons with its racist structures, this year’s Juneteenth celebrations have seen increased interest.

An annual day observing the end of slavery in the south, Juneteenth falls each year on June 19. This Friday’s celebrations get underway not only during a national uprising for racial justice, but during a global pandemic. Below, find ways to honor Juneteenth at home with streamed music and art, and view a select list of outdoor celebrations happening around the Bay Area.

Additional reporting by Dacia Mitchell.

Select Online Juneteenth Events on June 19

‘Polar Bears, Black Boys & Prairie Fringed Orchids’
Thirty Bay Area theater companies come together for this streamed performance of Vincent Terrell Durham’s play, Polar Bears, Black Boys & Prairie Fringed Orchids, a timely meditation on police killings of Black people and the Black Lives Matter movement. The play is presented as part of the PlayGround Zoom Fest and the Juneteenth Theatre Justice Project, a national movement spanning theaters across America. Starts at 7pm Pacific time; details here.

Marcus Shelby: Juneteenth and the Blues
Carrying on the tradition of figures like Charles Mingus and Archie Shepp, who infused jazz with politics, composer and bassist Marcus Shelby has presented jazz programs on Harriet Tubman, the Negro Leagues, the school-to-prison pipeline and more. In an hour-long Zoom presentation of live music, readings and poetry, Shelby delves into Juneteenth’s history and resonance today. Starts at 4pm Pacific time; details here.

A still from 'Take This Hammer,' featuring James Baldwin.
A still from ‘Take This Hammer,’ featuring James Baldwin. (KQED)

‘Take This Hammer’
Filmed by KQED in 1963, Take This Hammer follows James Baldwin around San Francisco as he speaks with young Black people and compasres the racial atmosphere in the so-called “progressive” city to the segregated south. The full director’s cut is available to stream; details here.

NAACP Black Family Reunion
The NAACP hosts a two-hour special about lives lost and personal stories from the Black community. Participants can submit their story for potential inclusion in advance. Starts at 1pm Pacific time; details here.

Music From Other Minds: Juneteenth
The Other Minds radio show expands to two hours for a Juneteenth special with the music of Black American composers including Matana Roberts, Moor Mother, Ben LaMar Gay, LOAN (Tongo Eisen-Martin & Chris Peck) and more. Hosted by Liam Herb, the special starts at 10pm Pacific time; details here.

Harlem of the West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era
Elizabeth Pepin Silva and Lewis Watts, authors of the book Harlem of the West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era, discuss the neighborhood’s robust history of Black culture, which urban renewal erased in the 1960s and 1970s. Starts at noon Pacific time; details here.


Select Outdoor Juneteenth Events on June 19


Juneteenth West Coast Port Shutdown & Caravan to Frank Ogawa Plaza – 10am

Second Annual Bike 4 Justice Rally in West Oakland – 12:30pm to 4pm

Juneteenth at the Lake – Meet at Alameda County Courthouse & March around Lake Merritt – 1pm to Sunset

Black Youth for the People’s Liberation Protest at deFremery Park – 4pm

California Nurses Assoc. Black Lives Matter Protest – at Kaiser on Broadway – 4pm

Lake Merritt Amphitheater Juneteenth Celebration – 4pm to 7pm

Justice for Juneteenth at Lake Merritt – 5pm

Rally for Huey P. Newton Monument with Fredrika Newton at Alameda County Courthouse – 5pm

Park Blvd. Juneteenth Protest at Park Blvd. between I-580 and CA13. – 5-6pm

‘Black Mass’ Juneteenth Spoken Word & Drum Circle at Lake Merritt Amphitheater – 7pm

San Francisco

March for Freedom & Justice from Ferry Building to City Hall – Noon

Black Lives Matter Caravan Protest – location TBD – 10am–1pm

“Kicking for Freedom” three-mile skate through SF starting at Ferry Building – 1 to 3pm

Rally Celebrating Black Queer Joy at QBar in the Castro – 3pm

Juneteenth Rally at City Hall – 1pm

Yoga Protest at Dolores Park – 4pm to 5pm

Bay Swimmers in Solidarity Floating Protest at Aquatic Park – 5:30pm

Juneteenth Peace Walk, Arts & Music from City Hall to 6th & A St. – 11am to 3pm

Santa Rosa
Juneteenth Festival at Pioneer Park – Noon

Juneteenth March for Justice to City Hall – 1pm

Santa Clara
March for Freedom Day at Santa Clara University- 3pm to 5pm

March for Justice from Buchanan Park to Marina – 3pm

Black Lives Matter Protest at City Hall with speeches and march to Carnegie Park – 4pm

Palo Alto
Defend Black Lives Protest at King Plaza, City Hall – 5pm

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