Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19 that Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed in Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free, two years after President Abraham Lincoln had pronounced as much with the Emancipation Proclamation.
While Juneteenth has seen rises and dips in popularity nationwide over the last 150-plus years, many in the Black community have continued on in the traditional celebration of freedom, agency and education. It was only last year that Juneteenth was made a national holiday to be celebrated on June 19.
Here’s a list of 25 ways you can observe Juneteenth in the Charlotte area.
Various dates and times | Tours depart from 7th Street Public Market | $18-32
In 1998, the Interfaith Pilgrimage made its way through Charlotte on its journey from Boston to West Africa. Their goal was to re-create the slave trade routes — known as the Middle Passage — and in the process make stops at points of interest to pray for racial healing and atonement for the past institution of slavery. This professionally-guided motorized tour is a re-creation of their stop here, where they visited three existing slave cemeteries, a former slave church and over 50 other sites of Charlotte history.
June 16-19 | Various times | House of Africa | Free
A free multicultural event, now in its 25th year, that aims to examine the cultural heritage of enslaved Africans and their descendants through art, education and research. Events include a parade, heritage performances and music, a street festival in Plaza Midwood, drum circles and Sunday service.
June 16 | 7 p.m. | Upscale Studio and Events | $20 per two-person team
Teams of two compete for a $200 cash prize playing the card game Spades, which has as central a role in African-American culture. The tournament is free to watch and there will be music, food and drinks.
June 17-19 | Various times | Rendezvous 704 | Free
A weekend experience that includes performing arts, spoken word, live music, a community meditation and drum circle, an art walk, fashion show and after hours rooftop events. The celebration aims to honor the past by celebrating the freedom Black people had before the period of slavery and all they’ve contributed to the world for the past 100,000 years.
June 17 | 6 p.m. | Gantt Center | Free
Art After Dark is a celebration of Black Music Month during Juneteenth weekend. Attendees can create a collage and experiment with oil pastels during drop-in workshops; explore the latest exhibit, Billie Zangewa: Thread for a Web Begun; and watch a specially curated theatre performance and live concert that celebrates a journey through decades of Black music.
June 18 | 1 p.m. | Cabarrus Arena & Events Center, 4751 NC 49, Concord | Free
Titled “Educating, Empowering, Entertaining,” the 2022 North Carolina Juneteenth Festival features 40 Black-owned vendors as well as kids activities, dance and music performances.
June 18 | 7:30 a.m. | 1540 W. Blvd. | $30
Celebrate physical, mental and spiritual freedom by running 2-3.5 miles or biking 10-25 miles to earn a commemorative medal. Following the run and ride, there will be food and merchandise for purchase from Exposed Vegan and Renaldo’s Restaurant.
June 18 | 1:30 p.m. | Senior Drive in University Park | Free
The third-annual Juneteenth festival in Charlotte’s Historic West End, themed “Celebrating and Educating: Black Liberation and Unity,” features performances by African dancers, Black musicians and storytellers, voter registration and education, children’s activities and health screenings.
June 18 | Noon | Carole Hoefener Center | Free
Attendees will hear from keynote speaker Demario Baker, owner and founder of Nspire-Us Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to mentoring and educating underserved youth, and address related topics during a youth-led panel discussion.
June 18 | 11 a.m.-2 p.m. | Ada Jenkins Center, 212 Gamble St., Davidson | Free
This family and career development center’s second annual Juneteenth event will include slam poetry, performances, a keynote address, music, dancing, shopping, food trucks, a “Fun Zone” for kids and more.
Golf Classic: June 18 | 8:30 a.m. | Rocky River Golf Club, 6900 Bruton Smith Blvd., Concord | $250 per two-person team
Gala: June 18 | 6 p.m. | Hilton Charlotte Concord Golf Resort & Spa, 5400 John Q. Hammons Drive NW, Concord | $125
The Charlotte Golfers Alliance is a nonprofit organization founded in 2021 to unite golfers in the Charlotte region to celebrate and promote diversity in the game of golf. The purpose of the 2nd Annual Juneteenth Golf Classic and Gala is to gather golfers around the Charlotte region in order to participate in one round of golf for a good cause while celebrating the Juneteenth holiday.
June 18 | 10 a.m.-4 p.m. | First Ward Elementary School | $125
Little Miss Melanin is a beauty, leadership and excellence camp for BIPOC girls from ages 3-18. Organizers aim to create a safe, fun and inspirational environment that inspires girls to be bold, brave and brilliant with a program that encourages them to take pride in their culture and heritage and cultivate a strong self-image. Each girl participates in workshops on leadership, S.T.E.A.M. careers, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, etiquette, pageantry, modeling, acting, dance, nutrition, wellness and art.
June 18 | 7:30 a.m. | Steele Street Park, 600 Steele St., Fort Mill, SC | $25-35
Community support is at the heart of every big social change, every generational shift, and every big win for diversity and inclusivity. It starts locally, perhaps with small races with big missions, like Remember The Ancestors 5k, that ultimately create a better tomorrow for all people. Melanin Parks, a nonprofit that aims to promote and improve diversity and inclusivity in the Charlotte area, was built on the founding principle that, “Together, we can make a change.” Remember The Ancestors 5k is where that starts. The route passes by four sites of historical significance in Fort Mill.
June 18 | 11 a.m.-3 p.m. | Steele Street Park, 600 Steele St., Fort Mill, SC | Free
Don’t want to run a race (or wake up before 8 a.m.)? Get down to Steele Street Park for the party that follows the race, featuring food, games, live music and family-friendly fun.
June 18 | 2-9:30 p.m. | Stowe Park, 24 S. Main St., Belmont | Free
Elements of Empowerment, a group that aims to foster cultural awareness, acceptance, and preservation by educating, enriching, and empowering communities through artistic cultural programs, presentations and events, is returning to in-person for this year’s Juneteenth celebration, which is celebrating 10 years since it became the first such celebration in Gaston County. The all-day festival focuses on music, art and culture as its key elements.
June 18 & 19 | Noon-9 p.m. | Erwin Center, 913 N. Pryor St., Gastonia & Rotary Centennial Pavilion, 111 S. South St., Gastonia | Free-$100
This Juneteenth Festival will for the first time include a parade and fireworks to wrap up a weekend that will feature a youth summit and luncheon, basketball tournaments, entertainment, food trucks, Black-owned business vendors, a kids corner and information/resources. The first day takes place at the Erwin Center, named in honor of Dr. Herbert Erwin, Gaston County’s first African American physician and a strong advocate for youth sports and activities. Sunday’s festivities will take place at the Rotary Centennial Pavilion.
June 19 | 2-8 p.m. | StarMed Family & Urgent Care, 4001 Tuckaseegee Road | Free-$5
Black Business Owners of Charlotte was founded in late 2014 with a goal to empower current and future Black business owners with resources needed to sustain a lucrative business, while inspiring them to reach back and uplift their surrounding communities. In their mission to create pathways to economic mobility and close the 50-year wealth gap facing the Black community, BBOC celebrates Juneteenth aka Economic Freedom Day, with a family-friendly event featuring a “Kids Zone,” music, and an array of Black-owned businesses including food trucks, retail, dessert and artisans.
June 19 | 12:30-5 p.m. | Gantt Center | Free
An afternoon of music, conversation and creative expression for all at the Gantt Center features a lineup of fun, engaging and interactive events trumpeting the elements of freedom: a colorful hands-on art experience with contemporary abstract artist Frankie Zombie; a community conversation on historical elements surrounding Juneteenth in which participants will reflect on the importance of never forgetting the past and celebrating how far the community and culture have advanced; and a closing live musical performance from Quentin Talley and the Soul Providers.
June 19 | 11 a.m.-3 p.m. | Romare Bearden Park | Free
Pierre Shungu, founder of the Juneteenth Youth Experience, joins with Charlotte community leaders and business owners to present the third-annual Juneteenth Youth Experience, for which organizers expect more than 40 youth vendors, youth entertainment and special guests. This event aims to be a pivotal platform for young entrepreneurs to showcase their businesses and/or products and encourage successful business practices.
June 19 | 2 p.m. | Steele Creek, address to be disclosed upon purchase | $5-25
This year, the Network & Chill Foundation is all about mentorship and youth empowerment. While much of this event will feature fun games, music and performances, there will also be a heavy focus on entrepreneurship — offering mentorship opportunities for the youth as well as connecting artists and entrepreneurs alike with a network of people who can help each other reach new levels of success.
June 19 | 2-6 p.m. | Hornets Nest Park | Free
Held by Beauty & Blessings Events LLC, this Black business mixer aims to bring together the community to celebrate the freedom and liberation of Black people.
June 19 | 10 a.m. | Veterans Memorial Park | $30
If you can kick, throw, catch, pitch, run or just want to support an HBCU, sign up for this special event. The winning team will receive a trophy and bragging rights. Don’t have a team? Sign up individually and you will be placed on one. All funds raised will support the 2022-23 Winston Salem State University National Alumni Association Charlotte Chapter Scholarship Fund.
June 20 | 10 a.m. | CPCC Cato Campus | Free
Inspired by the array of Black people standing in honor, dignity, beauty and strength in the movie Black Panther, this inaugural Juneteenth parade will be a platform to encourage young people to dream big and accomplish their goals in life. Parade participants will include a variety of Black professionals from all types of industries as a testimony that opportunities are endless.
June 25 | Noon-4 p.m. | Queen City Social Space | Free
Celebrate Black freedom at NXT Big Thing Charlotte’s Juneteenth Celebration pop-up shop, featuring free SWAG bags, food, drink, music, and shopping from Black vendors.
June 25 | Noon-5 p.m. | UNC Charlotte Popp Martin Student Union | Free
A free, educational and empowering event hosted by UNC Charlotte’s Scrapbooking Club featuring music, poetry, vendors, educational resources, giveaways, community and more.