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How to Celebrate Juneteenth 2023 in the Bay Area

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This year’s roundup of Juneteenth events celebrates the communities and organizations forging unity through education, technology, art, dance and music — highlighting joyful local traditions as well as innovative new projects and spaces honoring Black freedom.

people at an outdoor farmers' market against a blue sky in San Francisco
Attendees explore different Black-owned food businesses at Juneteenth on the Waterfront, an annual pop-up event at the Embarcadero Ferry Terminal Plaza in San Francisco. (Courtesy of Foodwise)

Juneteenth on the Waterfront

June 10
Embarcadero Ferry Terminal Plaza, San Francisco

The weekend farmers’ market trip was something I delighted in as a kid. It was a chance for me and my brother to explore new scents and foods, happening upon morsels we’d never have at home. Here, the magic was in the search.

Juneteenth on the Waterfront provides this familiar wonder, with a focus on uplifting and highlighting local Black-owned businesses. Organized by Foodwise, a nonprofit that manages farmers markets and education programs rooted in food equity and sustainability, the event features 15 Black-owned pop-up vendors selling hearty meals, desserts and drinks. Now in its third year, Juneteenth on the Waterfront will also be debuting a craft market, where several Black creators will be selling accessories, attire, skincare and more.

There will also be a Black Chefs and Wine Makers talk, where a panel of restaurateurs and sommeliers that includes chef Tanya Holland will discuss the history of Black farmers and food migration to California.

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Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir Juneteenth Concert Series

June 16, Freight & Salvage, Berkeley; June 23, Bankhead Theater, Livermore; June 25, Great American Music Hall, San Francisco 

With the aim to connect people through Black gospel music, local minister and composer Terrance Kelly founded the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir in 1986. In this upcoming three-part concert series, the passionate and diverse choir will perform songs that highlight the significance of gospel music to African American identity and history. Each performance is dynamic — rarely are the choir members static. They sing with exuberance, dancing as they harmonize through numbers that explore both historical and contemporary gospel styles.

The choir will perform at Freight & Salvage in Berkeley on June 16, Bankhead Theater in Livermore on June 23 and Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on June 25. Tickets range from $22–30; more info here.

attendees dance together at an outdoor Black music and culture festival
Attendees dance together at the 2022 Afrocentric Oakland’s Juneteenth Festival at Lake Merritt. (Nate King)

Afrocentric Oakland’s 14th Annual Juneteenth Festival

June 17
Lake Merritt Amphitheater, Oakland

Afrocentric Oakland’s beloved yearly Juneteenth Festival returns on June 17 with an array of live music performances, vendors, art installations and other activities. This large-scale event draws in eager crowds every year, with attendees in their breeziest outfits coming together to sing, dance and celebrate freedom. This year’s festival will be headlined by Vallejo rapper LaRussell and hosted by writer and poet Prentice Powell, comedian J. Rich and artist-activist RyanNicole. General admission tickets are $25.

a musical group of seven people dressed in black and white, most of them with Afros, pose while holding instruments and smiling
The Curtis Family C-notes will be performing at MoAD’s free community day. (Courtesy of MoAD)

Free Community Day at MoAD

June 17
Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco

As part of its Juneteenth celebration, the Museum of the African Diaspora will offer free admission to its current exhibitions and a variety of events from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. These include a conversation between Oakland librarian and writer Dorothy Lazard and KQED’s own Pendarvis Harshaw; a family art workshop with the museum’s teaching artists; and musical performances by The Curtis Family C-notes and faculty from the San Francisco Community Music Center’s Black Music Studies program.

a group of joyous young Black girls in colorful shirts dance in the street as part of a parade
Children dance as the Juneteenth parade rolls through the Fillmore District in 2014. The event celebrates the abolition of slavery in the U.S. (Michael Macor/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

Juneteenth SF Freedom Celebration

June 17
1330 Fillmore St., San Francisco

Spread throughout eight blocks of the Fillmore District — a historic neighborhood that became an epicenter for a thriving Black arts, music and entertainment scene in the 1940s — the Juneteenth SF Freedom Celebration will host thousands in its wide-ranging festivities. The event will be divided into six “districts” that include live performances, food, community and family-oriented games and rides, a classic car show and a hair and fashion show. Equipped with a carnival ride and ferris wheel, the festival both embodies the quintessential summer fair and centers the rich traditions of Black culture and history.

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and admission is free. More information here.

Juneteenth in Richmond

June 17
Nicholl Park, Richmond

The centerpiece for Richmond’s Juneteenth celebrations is its lively annual parade: a joyous procession made up of the city’s local leaders, youth groups and community organizations. The parade begins at 10 a.m. at the Booker T. Anderson Center and will be followed by an 11 a.m. festival that includes live music, family activities and more.

two people, seen from the back, look at bracelets at a vendor's stand
People browse a vendor’s wares at the 2019 Vallejo Juneteenth Festival. (Angela Jones)

Vallejo Juneteenth Festival and Parade

June 17
301 Mare Island Way, Vallejo

Returning for its 33rd year, the Vallejo Juneteenth Festival will kick off with a parade at 9 a.m. before attendees are invited to wander among vendor booths, groove to live music and learn about local organizations and resources related to health and wellness, education, small business development and more.

three adorable little Black girls hold balloon animals and wear stickers that read 'I heart being Black' at a festival
Young community members celebrate at the 2018 Berkeley Juneteenth Festival. (Malaika Kabon)

36th Annual Berkeley Juneteenth Festival

June 18
Adeline and Alcatraz, Berkeley

The longstanding Berkeley Juneteenth Festival returns with vendors and musical performances that include Oakland jazz artist Sonny Fairley, reggae singer Junior Toots, musical trio Guitar Trifecta and other local talent. Since its first iteration in 1987, the festival not only emphasizes the historical significance of Black emancipation but also the steps community members can take today to work towards healing and justice.

Preceding the festival is a weeklong schedule of programming from June 11–17 that includes an open house at Berkeley’s African American Holistic Resource Center, workshops on identifying and working through intergenerational trauma, using legal and policy tools to support formerly incarcerated individuals and how to document and preserve family stories. There will also be a farmer’s market specifically aimed towards supporting residents living in South Berkeley, an area that has seen limited fresh food access.

7th Marin City Juneteenth Festival

June 19
800 Drake Ave., Marin City

Marin City’s Juneteenth Festival begins at 9 a.m. with a hearty and reflective prayer breakfast at the Marguerite Johnson Senior Center, before attendees are ushered into a day packed with eclectic and energetic dance and musical performances. The lineup includes rapper Will Believe, Parliament tribute band Purifiedment Funkensurance and Zimbabwe neo-soul artist Piwai, among others.

The free festival will also feature a marketplace where vendors will be selling food, art, hair and skin products, handmade crafts and more.

a young Black man in glasses and a black hoodie delivers a lecture
GHTech founder George Hofstetter delivers a lecture on Black creativity and technology. (Shayan Davaloo)

GHTech and KitsCubed Juneteenth Tech Summit

June 19
Broadway Event Hall, Oakland

When Oakland software engineer and educator George Hofstetter founded GHTech, he aimed to uplift and encourage people of marginalized communities to carve out their own space in the tech world. Hofstetter became aware of the lack of diverse voices in the field and sought to change that, creating a lecture series highlighting Black creativity and the intersections of social justice and technology at various HBCU campuses across the U.S.

In collaboration with KitsCubed — an Oakland organization dedicated to youth-oriented science education — GHTech will conclude its lecture series with a celebratory tech summit on June 19, where people of all ages, backgrounds and experience levels can network and listen to talks on hacktivism and technology through the lens of Black liberation. The event is free to attend and will run from 5–9 p.m.

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