20 Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth 2023 in the Triangle

Local readings, music, art installations and a historic store opening in Raleigh will honor Juneteenth this year. 
by Eliza Martin and Nelie Tahssili

Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States — it honors the date, June 19, 1865, when the last of the enslaved African Americans learned of their freedom. There are many ways to celebrate and honor this holiday in the Triangle, including pop-up shops, open mic celebrations, festivals and sensory experiences. Check out our list below.

photo credit Winter Martin

Celebrate Juneteenth with Liberation Station’s Grand Opening

Four years after Victoria Scott-Miller started the pop-up bookstore Liberation Station, she’s opening her first brick-and-mortar location. It will be the first Black-owned children’s bookstore in Raleigh, with more than 1,000 titles that represent Black characters, writers and illustrators. “This store is beyond our ancestors’ wildest dreams, one that acknowledges our place in North Carolina history while unearthing a diverse spectrum of affirming Black images from every fabric of our life,” says Scott-Miller. The grand opening will be a weekend-long celebration leading up to Juneteenth. On Saturday, notable children’s book authors, including New York Times bestselling author Derrick Barnes and award-winning author Tameka Fryer Brown, will be at Liberation Station for book signings. On Sunday, the bookstore will host White Glove Day, where guests can interact with historical documents including letters written by Frederick Douglass and signed, first-edition books by Octavia Butler, Langston Hughes and bell hooks. On Monday, there will be a walk from the state capitol to the bookstore led by a group of Black equestrians, followed by a book signing by Caitlin Gooch, the founder of nonprofit Saddle Up and Read, which works to help children achieve literary success through equine activities.

June 17 – 19 | Various times; Free admission; 208 Fayetteville Street, Suite 201; liberationstationbookstore.com

Juneteenth Jubilee at John Chavis Memorial Park 

John Chavis Memorial Park is hosting a week-long celebration with free events that recognize and honor African-American culture through history, arts and entertainment. Monday focuses on Raleigh’s Black history and the historical events of Juneteenth. Tuesday highlights Fun Fitness in the Park (one highlight: line dancing!). Wednesday night will be Chavis Palooza with activities and games for the whole family. Thursday evening, the Chavis Frolics Dance Party will get you moving, and the Summer Movie Series will also be happening. On Friday, wrap up the week with food trucks and music. 

June 12-16 | Various times; Free; 505 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard; raleighnc.gov

Experiences with African American Genealogy at the State Library of NC

The North Carolina State Library has partnered with the State Archives of North Carolina and the Capital City Juneteenth Celebration Committee to host a Lunch and Learn event. A panel of veteran family history researchers will speak about research strategies and their own experiences unraveling the knots of history and speaking about their community’s ancestral ties. After the Lunch and Learn event there will be a Q&A for any further questions that attendees may have. The event will take place in room 208 at SLNC or a livestream will also be happening on the SLNC youtube page. This informative event is guaranteed to present interesting and unique stories. 

June 15 | 12 – 1:30 p.m.; Free; 109 East Jones Street; statelibrary.ncdcr.gov

Chef’s Table: Afrofuturism at the North Carolina Museum of Art

The Ruth E Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design is being celebrated on a special evening with a private tour led by Maya Brooks, assistant curator of contemporary art. Get a special look into the art with Brooks who will share insights and stories from artist Ruth E. Carter. The tour is followed by a cocktail hour and wine pairing. Catering Works executive chef Rich Carter, is preparing a cuisine that reflects the culture that is showcased in Carter’s collection creating an interactive and sensory experience.

June 15 | 6 -9 p.m.; From $150; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

Rhythm & Rhyme at The Cary Theater

Rhythm & Rhyme: A Celebration of Liberty is an evening that is going to be dedicated to spoken poetry and music that honors and celebrates Juneteenth. Brandi Hancock, a guest soloist for the North Carolina Symphony and Durham Symphony, will be host of the event. This event will feature talented NC artists Christopher Massenburg, Debrita Calloway, and NiiTO. Genesis Bogg, a 21 year old Pop/R&B artist from Virginia will also be featured at this event. Get lost in soulful poetry and music at this event that celebrates Juneteenth in a fun, musical and poetic way. 

June 15 | 7 p.m.; From $5; 122 E. Chatham Street, Cary; thecarytheater.com

Honoring Juneteenth at The North Carolina Museum of History

The North Carolina Museum of History is helping share the contributions and experience of African Americans and their legacy in the struggle for freedom. Members of Battery B Second Regiment, United States Colored Troops (USCT), and Light Artillery Reenactors will be in attendance. This free event is perfect to discover the legacy of the USCT and honor the people that worked towards change.

June 16 | 12 -4 p.m.; Free; 5 E Edenton Street ncmuseumofhistory.org

Juneteenth Joy 2023 at the North Carolina Museum of Art

The North Carolina Museum of Art is hosting a celebration of freedom and gospel music at their outdoor amphitheater. This event features The Clark Sisters, the highest selling female gospel group in history, as well as John P. Kee, a Durham native and award-winning musician and Pastor Shirley Caeser, another Durham native with 12 Grammys. Charles Jenkins, another Grammy-recognized vocalist will also be in attendance. Celebrate gospel music, award winning artists, and good company at this event that will get you grooving and celebrating. 

June 16 | 7 pm; From $45; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

Juneteenth Historical Open Mic Celebration

This event, hosted in partnership with Raleigh Parks and City of Raleigh’s Equity and Inclusion Department, is bringing tunes, good food, and a good time celebrating at Carolina Pines. This outdoor event combines musical performances, karaoke, games/activities, and lessons on the importance and value of Juneteenth. Performers, food trucks, and VIP ticket perks are just a few reasons this event will be a fun and exciting celebration. 

June 16 | 8 – 10 p.m.; From $10, 2305 Lake Wheeler Road; raleighnc.gov

Support Downtown Raleigh Black-Owned Businesses

According to Artspace director of community engagement, “Downtown Raleigh is home to multiple Black-led visual and performing art organizations including 311 Gallery, Artspace, Artsplosure, Arts Together, CAM Raleigh, Good Trip Gallery, VAE Raleigh, and The Gifted Arts.” To celebrate Juneteenth, Artspace and CAM Raleigh are partnering to host this free community event celebrating Juneteenth and Artistic Freedom called For The Culture Crawl. Grab a drink from your favorite sip & stroll bar, then make your way from Artspace to CAM, visiting Black-owned businesses along the way. Artspace will be hosting music by Rony Thomas, and CAM will have DJ K-Ward. Share photos with the hashtage #DTRCultureCrawl.

June 16 | 5 – 8 p.m.; Downtown Raleigh; artspacenc.org for more information  

Black History Trolley Tours

Looking for a leisurely tour of Raleigh’s Black history? Opt for a trolley tour. Carmen Wimberly Cauthen, a local author and historian, speaks on a trolley tour of some of Raleigh’s historic black neighborhoods such as the Third Ward, Oberlin Village and more. Additionally, there is a Black history trolley tour on the Raleigh Trolley that explores the Black history of the city through a closer look at churches, historic black owned businesses, homes and more the weekend before Juneteenth. Be sure to book your spot before they fill up.

June 16 and 17 | Various times; $10; 511 S Wilmington Street and 1 Mimosa Street; raleighnc.gov, raleighnc.gov

Raleigh Juneteenth Festival

This 3 day event starting on Friday, June 16th kicks off with a career fair that connects local businesses with job seekers. Guest speakers, live entertainment, and networking opportunities will also be featured at this event. On Saturday June, 17th a large range of activities including fashion shows, open mic, and live performances will be highlighted as well as a discovery of over 100 Black business owners. The weekend is wrapped up with a Juneteenth Networking Brunch that is developed to promote Black-owned businesses. Last year’s festival attracted over 1,000 attendees and this year they are getting even bigger.

June 16-19; From free; 5411 New Bern Ave; raleighjuneteenthfestival.org

Bull City Juneteenth Parade

Take a short drive over to North Carolina Central University in Durham for a celebration of freedom in the form of a Juneteenth parade. With a line up full of marching bands, community groups and more, this parade will be a morning full of fun for the whole family at one of North Carolina’s most well known HBCUs. Bring the whole family out for a morning of celebration and community in honor of Juneteenth. 

June 17 | 10 a.m.; Free; North Carolina Central University, Durham; discoverdurham.com

Celebrate Black Culture and Community in Chapel Hill-Carrboro

Hargraves Community Center is hosting a Juneteenth celebration with live entertainment,  music, food vendors, artisan showcase, small business fair, and a community non-profit showcase. Gospel singers, steel drums, rap artists, and DJs will keep the energy up throughout the day. This is a perfect family event since there is a Kids Zone that will keep young ones entertained with face painting and street performers. Support local nonprofits and Black businesses at this lively event. 

June 17 | 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Free; 216 N Roberson Street, Chapel Hill; chapelhillarts.org

Juneteenth Black Arts Festival

At just over half an hour drive away from Raleigh, this Black Arts Festival in historic Pittsboro is the perfect day trip. This festival is meant to highlight Black artists both in the area and across the country, complete with food trucks, live performances, a Black Business Expo and plenty of events for kids to enjoy. Come jam out to a performance by local band Liquid Pleasure and stick around to see the full setlist of performers and be sure to check out the lecture series that highlights the importance of Black community and culture. This festival is sure to be an educational and enjoyable event for the whole family, so come out and celebrate the Black community in historic Pittsboro.

June 17 | 11 a.m.- 4 p.m.; Free; 191 Fairgrounds Rd, Pittsboro; corenc.org

Durham Juneteenth Block Party featuring Triangle Pop-Up Market

Celebrate Juneteenth fashionably with an event supporting local creators that are showcasing their unique art. Live music, appetizing food, cooling drinks, and shopping is the perfect way to spend a Saturday honoring Juneteenth. Not only do you get to shop local creators, you can also check out Boxyard RTP’s in-house vendors which offer a diverse range of products and services. Head over to Boxyard RTP and celebrate Juneteenth in style. 

June 17 | 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Free admission; 900 Park Offices Drive, Durham; boxyard.rtp.org

Apex Juneteenth Festival

This town-organized event in Apex is bringing people together to celebrate the importance of Juneteenth in history. This celebration features live music and entertainment from NiiTO and ET Drum Prophet, various food trucks, basketball and other games, and local vendors. The event kicks off with opening remarks from Mayor Gilbert and closes with musical performances. Celebrate equity, respect, and understanding of different cultures at this festival with lots of entertainment and fun. 

June 17 | 11am-6pm; 220 N. Salem Street, Apex; apexnc.org

Capital City Juneteenth Celebration at Dorothea Dix Park

Pack a blanket and some lawn chairs and head out for an afternoon in the sun full of entertainment, food trucks, kids events and more on the Big Field and Chapel Event Center at Dix Park. Presented by Dix Park, WRAL-TV and Capital City Juneteenth Committee, this afternoon lineup has something for the whole family to enjoy, with everything from children’s stories and a water slide for the younger attendees to plenty of performances suited to all audiences. This event is free to attend, but RSVPs are suggested.

June 17 | 1-6 p.m; Free, 101 Blair Drive; dixpark.org

Do the Right Thing at the North Carolina Museum of Art

Head over to the North Carolina Museum of Art for their Juneteenth showing of the 1989 movie Do the Right Thing. This comedic drama film directed by and starring Spike Lee explores themes of racial violence and tensions through the story of a young Black man living in Brooklyn. Make sure to get there before the movie starts to dance along to a hip-hop DJ set by Brian Dawson. Take advantage of the museum’s picnic boxes available for preorder for a meal during the show, or grab some snacks and drinks from their concession stands during the event.

June 17 | 6 – 10:30 p.m.; From $10; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

Walking Tours in the Third Ward

Get outside and explore on a walking tour of one of Raleigh’s historic Black neighborhoods, the Third Ward, sponsored by the Friends of the City of Raleigh Museum. The tour begins at the Pope House Museum in the heart of downtown, and heads out on a historic and informative tour across the noteworthy neighborhood that was home to numerous Black professionals and businesses in the early 20th century. Be sure to register early as spots are limited and get ready to learn all about an integral part of Raleigh’s past.

June 17 and 18 | Various times; Free; 511 S Wilmington Street; raleighnc.gov

Visit the Pope House Museum

One of Raleigh’s most historic houses, the Pope House Museum in downtown Raleigh, is available for tours this Juneteenth weekend. This house was owned by Dr. Manassa Thomas Pope, one of the first Black physicians in North Carolina and a prominent figure in Raleigh history. The museum features some of the house’s original furniture as well as artifacts from Dr. Pope’s life, and is located in what once was a boundary between segregated sections of the city. Tours of the museum are first come, first serve and admission is free of charge. 

Saturdays | 9 a.m- 4 p.m. and Sundays | 1-4 p.m.; Free; 511 S Wilmington Street; visitraleigh.com

NCFC vs. Lexington Sporting Club- Juneteenth Festival

Before the North Carolina FC takes on Lexington SC, the team is hosting a Juneteenth festival with local exhibits and entertainment provided by Black-owned businesses. Player inspired merchandise auctions, food trucks and more are presented at this event that is the perfect way to celebrate Juneteenth before a fun soccer game. A match ticket is required to attend the Juneteenth festival, and discounted parking is also available. Start your day with a Juneteenth celebration and end it with an evening of sports and fun!

June 18 | 1:00-5:00 p.m.; From $5; 201 Soccer Park Drive; northcarolinafc.com

Party in the Park: Juneteenth Celebration at RTP 

Research Triangle Park is hosting a Party in the Park to celebrate Juneteenth. This free outdoor event will include live music, food trucks and massive yard games. There is even a prize for the first 30 attendees, who will receive free Icees to kick off the event. The event staff will also be passing out must-reads by Black authors to showcase and promote Black artists. Whether you are looking to indulge yourself in history or looking for a fun event with family and friends, this is the perfect event to celebrate.

June 19 | 12-2 p.m.; Free admission; 300 Park Offices Drive; frontier.rtp.org

  This article was originally published on June 16, 2023 on waltermagazine.com