Juneteenth, celebrated annually on June 19, marks the date that enslaved Black Americans learned they were free. The event itself was more than two years after the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation — when a Union Army general read General Order Number 3 to the people of Galveston, Texas, in 1985:
“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”
Now, 158 years later, people across the area can both enjoy the holiday and recognize it as an important step in acknowledging the legacy of slavery and the work needed to address racial inequality.
Here’s what’s happening in Northern Virginia for Juneteenth.
The Forgotten Road Tour runs from June 15 to 17. The tour at Sully Historic Site includes a walk into the original outbuildings and representative slave quarter cabin. The tour is held weather-permitting. The programs are from 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. You do need to register. 3650 Historic Sully Wy., Chantilly, free
Juneteenth at the Alexandria Archaeology Museum: From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Alexandria Archaeology Museum holds a hands-on activity related to a free Black site excavated in Alexandria. It’s being paired with the new Lee Street Site permanent archaeology exhibit centered on the experiences of free and enslaved African Americans in Alexandria. 105 N. Union St., Alexandria, free
Splatter Summer Arts in the Style of Synthia Saint James: From 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., create art with bright colors, patterns, and incorporating silhouettes in the style of Synthia Saint James, an American visual artist, author, educator, and actor. Saint James’ multicultural figurative paintings are the perfect way to welcome the Juneteenth weekend. James M. Duncan Jr. Branch Library: 2501 Commonwealth Ave., Alexandria, free
The Juneteenth Celebration at the Arlington Historical Museum from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. will feature speakers sharing stories of Arlington’s Black community builders. Speakers include Steve Hammond, a Syphax descendant, historian, and genealogist who was behind the 2023 Arlington House Family Reunion. 1805 S. Arlington Ridge Rd., Arlington, free
Join supporters and volunteers from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Douglass Cemetery, the city’s historic Black cemetery, to place purple ribbons of remembrance on the gravestones and attend a short ceremony following in honor of those buried in Douglass Cemetery and the Juneteenth holiday. In partnership with the Social Responsibility Group and the Friends of Douglass Cemetery. 1421 Wilkes St., Alexandria, free
Juneteenth Family Craft is from 11 a.m. to noon. Come and make a simple Juneteenth decoration with your family. Recommended for ages 3 and up. Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library: 717 Queen St., Alexandria, free
The Manumission Tour Company will offer a Juneteenth African American History Bus Tour. Visit historic sites that tell the story of African Americans in early Alexandria, including several historic African American churches in the city. 902 Wythe St., Alexandria, $35
Alexandria’s Carlyle House, a historic house museum and park, holds its annual Juneteenth celebration from noon to 4 p.m. in collaboration with The Athenaeum, a regional arts organization, and C. Alexandria-Bernard Thomas, a Black nonbinary, award-winning poet. 121 N. Fairfax St., Alexandria, free
Celebrate African American culture during Fairfax’s Juneteenth celebration. There will be stories, food, music, and crafts at Frying Pan Farm Park. Enjoy live music, history, and food trucks with African American cuisine. Register for the 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. event. 2709 West Ox Rd., Herndon, free
Mount Vernon is hosting Freedom Before Emancipation Family Day from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The event focuses on the legacies of enslaved men and women at Mount Vernon. It will feature performances on freedom and resistance through the eyes of Ona Judge and Christopher Sheels and honor the lives of the enslaved at the Slave Burial Ground Commemoration Ceremony. Included with admission. 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy., Mount Vernon. Adults, $26, kids (6–11), free under 6
NOVA Parks and the Fairfax County NAACP will host their second annual Juneteenth celebration. The event will recognize Robert Carter III, who emancipated 500 enslaved people in the 1790s, and the community of freed people who lived at Bull Run. Guests will visit a historic church and cemetery, hear stories about the freedmen community and their relatives, and hear a poetry reading and musical performances. Bishop Brett Fuller, Chaplain of the Washington Commanders, will be the guest speaker. Bull Run Regional Park: 7700 Bull Run Dr., Centreville, free
The “Burg” Family Reunion Juneteenth Celebration at the Ida Lee Park Recreation Center runs from noon to 6 p.m. It’ll have food trucks, kids entertainment, plenty of music, and craft vendors. 60 Ida Lee Dr., Leesburg, $15 presale, $20 the day of for those 12 and up, free for kids 11 and younger.
The third annual Juneteenth Celebration runs from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at SplashDown Waterpark. The celebration is free, but you will have to pay to get into the water park. 7500 Ben Lomond Park Rd., Manassas, $17.25 for those over 48 inches, $13.50 for those under 48 inches
WalkArlington Presents: Juneteenth Black Heritage Walk from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Towers Park. Discover Black heritage in Arlington on a walk to honor Juneteenth led by Craig Syphax, a board member and former president of the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington. Stops include St. John’s Baptist Church, Freedman’s Village Bridge, and more. 801 S. Scott St., Arlington, free
Explore the intersection of history and innovation at Sully Historic Site’s annual car show. Discover 200+ antique cars, African American inventors in the auto industry, and take tours of the historic house. It runs from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 3650 Historic Sully Wy., Chantilly, $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8 for children
Delve into the intriguing legend of quilt codes on the Underground Railroad at Green Spring Gardens. Explore Sharon Tindall’s collection of historically inspired African American quilts from the mid-1800s. Learn their significance to American history. Register for the event from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. 603 Green Spring Rd., Alexandria, $15
City-owned museums are free all day. Visit alexandriava.gov/Museums for a list of city-owned museums and hours of operation.
Honor Juneteenth as a community by cleaning the Douglass Memorial and Penny Hill Cemeteries from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Meet at Douglass Memorial Cemetery (1367-1473, Wilkes St.) and walk to Penny Hill Cemetery. Grabber tools and trash bags will be provided for the cleanup. Rain date is Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. 1367-1473, Wilkes St., free
At 10 a.m., visit the Black History Museum for a special encore storytime and craft with Lillian S. Patterson, former Curator at the museum and Alexandria Living Legend. 902 Wythe St., Alexandria, free
The Washington Revels Jubilee Voices ensemble presents a free concert of traditional African American songs of struggle and freedom at Alexandria’s Market Square at 2 p.m. 300 King St., free
Prince William County
Prince William County’s third annual Juneteenth Parade and Jubilee runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Cameron Street in Dumfries. The theme this year is “Liberating Black Spaces.” Community organizations will march to the Dumfries Slave Cemetery, where the program and jubilee will be held. Merchant Park: 3944 Cameron St., Dumfries, free
Featured photo courtesy Adedayo “Dayo” Kosoko for Visit Alexandria
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