Although Juneteenth has been a state holiday in Texas since 1980, the United States only declared it a federal holiday in 2021. Americans are still figuring out how to observe it. There are already viral celebratory missteps floating around this second year: corporations slapping cute graphics on cookout disposables, promised ragers vacant of purpose. These seven Austin events will be some of the best-produced of the weekend, led by Black community members taking into account education, activism, rest, and joy. Some are quintessential summer celebrations, while some are special iterations of indoor events that happen all year. All center opportunities to bring leaders, creatives, and their beneficiaries together.
Central Texas Juneteenth Parade
In some ways the default Juneteenth event in Central Texas, this parade starts June 18 at 10 am on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and ends in the Rosewood neighborhood for a festival at the park. There will be live performances and food, clothing, and informational vendors from noon to 9:30 pm, followed by a fireworks show. More information about the parade is available at juneteenthcentraltexas.com, including a parade map.
Stay Black & Live
Produced by two of Austin’s leading Black history organizations — Six Square and the George Washington Carver Museum — “Stay Black & Live” is a huge weekend festival June 18 and 19. This third annual festival brings musical performances (Ivy Rootz, Charmin Greene, Mama Duke, others), a genealogy presentation, a quilt making workshop, and bites by local chefs (for the first 300 attendees) and food trucks. Kimberly Holiday emcees, and Riders Against the Storm host the music festival. Find more information at juneteenthatx.com.
Genealogy at the George Washington Carver Museum
The George Washington Carver Museum, a year-round champion of African American history, is busy Juneteenth weekend. Along with the “Stay Black & Live” festival, it’s offering a free genealogy workshop led by kYmberly Keeton, “Where Were Your People in 1865?” The beginner to intermediate adult program will lead visitors through the basic steps of piecing together a family story, in two hour-long workshops on June 18 from 10 am to 11 am, and 1 pm to 2 pm. RSVP for the free event on Eventbrite.
Austin Area Urban League’s Freedom Fest
The expansive list of festivities by the Austin Area Urban League focuses on fun and culture. “Freedom Fest” on June 18 includes a barbecue competition, music and Slingshot showcases (the vehicle, not the projectile), food trucks, and children’s activities. There will also be a golf tournament June 16 (starting at $200) and a young professionals brunch June 19 ($50). The common theme throughout: “an opportunity to connect with the very people that make up the essence of the Eastside.” More information is available on aaul.org, with RSVPs on Eventbrite.
Juneteenth Retreat at the Cathedral
A June 19 “retreat” at co-working and events space The Cathedral creates space for introspection and rest in partnership with Reclamation Ventures and RSTRMVMT. Activities from noon to 6 pm include archival and clay-making workshops, restorative yoga, and portrait sessions. There will be a backdrop of curated art, refreshments, and performances in the restored 1930s East Austin church. Half of ticket sales benefit the collective Black Trans Leadership Austin. RSVP on Eventbrite.
Dining with Emmer & Rye
Led by one of Austin’s leading chefs, Tavel Bristol-Joseph, Emmer & Rye Hospitality Group is hosting two nights of purpose-led dining this month. On June 12 at Canje, Bristol-Joseph teamed up with Chef Adrian Lipscombe of the 40 Acres & a Mule Project, to raise funds for Black Mamas ATX. On June 19, the group is hosting a percentage night at all locations (Canje, Emmer & Rye, Hestia, Kalimotxo, TLV, Henbit, and Ladino in San Antonio) benefiting Austin’s Neill-Cochran House Museum. More information and reservation links are available at emmerhospitality.com.
Hotel Vegas and Volstead Lounge Juneteenth showcases
For those with their own day plans on the 19th, sister bars Hotel Vegas and The Volstead Lounge (both age 21 and up) are hosting special musical showcases in the evening. From 8 pm at Hotel Vegas, guests can see Ladi Earth, Chief Cleopatra, Jonny Jukebox, DJ Lefty ($10). From 5 pm at The Volstead, performances include DJ Zeeweed, Norman Ba$e, DJ Kilo 2 Posh, plus live music, art, and poetry (no cover). Free burgers will be served at 6 pm. Full lineups are available at texashotelvegas.com and on Facebook.