Juneteenth Events in Williamsburg, JCC & Yorktown 2021
Juneteenth is a holiday that celebrates emancipation and marks the end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth became a permanent state holiday in 2020. Texas was the first state to proclaim Juneteenth a state holiday in 1980. Here are a list of events that celebrate Juneteenth in Williamsburg area on June 19, 2021
Juneteenth at Colonial Williamsburg
Join the Williamsburg community as we gather to commemorate, celebrate, and reflect on the Black experience in America at this year’s annual Juneteenth Opening Ceremony on Market Square here at Colonial Williamsburg at 10 am – 11 am. By looking back, looking around, and looking within, we are challenged to evaluate the foundations of inequality and move forward together, committing ourselves to the unfinished work of eradicating systemic racism. This ceremony is free to anyone who wishes to attend and is presented in partnership with William & Mary, The Let Freedom Ring Foundation, The First Baptist Church, The City of Williamsburg, and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
Celebrate Juneteenth at Custis Square! – Take a tour of the archaeological site and learn about Pompey, Alice, Jack, and the other enslaved men, women, and children who lived and worked at Custis Square. Free flow exploration from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Guided tours begin at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Conversations with Peter begin at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. This community event is open to the public. Weather dependent. More info
Loquacious Lucy, Queen for a Day – When Lucy, a gregarious and loquacious enslaved child, learns that her best friend has been sold, her father must teach her hard lessons about slavery and instill in her the pride of her ancestors. Your day pass, Annual Membership or Good Neighbor Pass will get you in to see this live theatre. Showtimes at 11:30 and 12:30 at the outdoor Play House Stage in Colonial Williamsburg. More info
Remembrance: Honoring the Voices – For many of us, the stories of our past and where we come from are passed down through generations by word of mouth. This is especially true for African Americans. Many times, these stories are not written down and survive only in our memory. The joy and the pain are often undocumented. Sometimes the stories are forgotten and lost forever. Remembrance provides the community with an opportunity to hear, honor, and preserve the voices of families, friends, and neighbors so that we can continue to learn, grow, and heal together through the power of the spoken word. This is a free event. No admission ticket is required. 1 pm to 3 pm in the Market Square in Colonial Williamsburg More info
Joy in the Morning – Gather with members of the enslaved community to experience a music-filled message of hope. A spirit-led celebration of songs and stories illuminate the struggles and triumphs of African Americans in 18th-century Williamsburg. Charlton Stage – can be accessed with day pass, Annual Membership or Good Neighbor Pass. 4 pm – 4:35 pm
Freedom’s Paradox Take a 60-minute walking tour of the Randolph Yard, Market Square and Palace Green. Examine slavery’s evolution, and the reliance upon it by patriots like Peyton Randolph, to build a city, a colony and eventually a nation. Explore the paradox of the institution of slavery and the movement for independence by looking at the experiences of the free and enslaved members of the Randolph Household. Space is limited for this program. Tours at 1:45 pm, 2:45 pm and 3:45 pm. Learn More
Juneteenth Feast with Michael Twitty
This special culinary experience features a menu created by Michael Twitty. Come experience his work exploring Black culinary traditions of the south and their connection to the larger world. Let your plate tell the story at this one-day-only event. To see his work visit his blog at Afroculinaria.com. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation will donate a portion of the proceeds from the Juneteenth Feast with Michael Twitty to the Village Initiative for Equity in Education. 3:30 pm – 7:30 pm Learn more
The Juneteenth programming concludes at 9 p.m. with the debut of Honor & Reflection, a contemplative multimedia installation at the ongoing excavation of the historic First Baptist Church’s first permanent location of South Nassau Street in the Historic Area. The installation will be on view nightly through July 4, 8:30-10:30 p.m. Weather depending.
To see all the events (in case we missed a few visit Colonial Williamsburg Juneteenth page here.
Events in James City County
Freedom Stories & More at Freedom Park
On Saturday, June 19 from noon until 3 p.m., enjoy Freedom Stories & More at Freedom Park, located at 5337 Centerville Road. This event is free. Join Williamsburg native Dylan Pritchett, best known as “The Storyteller,” along with other Virginia Black Storytellers (VirBS) as they share with you Freedom Stories at Freedom Park! The Free Black Settlement area is the backdrop for this special event. Also featured are unique crafts for kids, music and food available for purchase.
This event is sponsored by James City County Parks & Recreation.
Freedom Park has a rich historical background dating back to the 1650s. This park is the site of an 18th Century cemetery, the Revolutionary War Battle of Spencer’s Ordinary (1781) and a 17th Century domicile which is revealing much archaeological research of the early colonial period (1680-1730). Freedom Park was also home to one of the nation’s earliest Free Black Settlements in America from 1803-1850. Three historically accurate recreated cabins are located in the park, and are furnished with items authentic to the period.
Juneteenth at Jamestown Settlement
Beginning at 2 p.m., Jamestown Settlement will offer Juneteenth programming included with admission. Tickets to this limited-capacity event must be purchased in advance to reserve a seat. Commemorate Juneteenth – an American celebration that marks the end of slavery in the United States. Although the name springs from events that happened in Galveston, TX, in 1865, the origins date to Jamestown as the place where the first recorded Africans in 1619 were brought after landing at Old Point Comfort and where the first slavery laws enacted in the late 17th century impacted their lives and status.
In this thought-provoking 90-minute outdoor program of performance, music and dance, meet African Americans from three centuries who fought against those laws until freedom came. Among them, visitors will meet Elizabeth Key, who sued for her freedom in Virginia’s 17th-century courts and won; an 18th-century Black soldier who claimed his freedom by enlisting in the Continental Army’s integrated Rhode Island Regiment; and Frederick Douglass, a former slave who self-emancipated and became one the 19th century’s most famous abolitionists. Nathan M. Richardson will portray Frederick Douglass. Christy S. Coleman, Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Executive Director, will speak at the Juneteenth event, offering opening and closing remarks.
Performances will feature Claves Unidos of Richmond, VA, interpreting the African Diaspora through dance, African drums and original interpretive choreography, while Lisa Reid-Williamson and Company will provide interludes of song. This is ticketed but if you are a local resident in the correct zipcodes you can get free admission to this program. Visit here.
Events at York River State Park
York River State Park will have two events on Saturday, June 19 that share stories of the history of African slavery in the Virginia Colony.
- Rebellion & Runaway Walk from 10 a.m. until noon
How did African slavery begin in the Virginia Colony and did they seek freedom from their condition? Did any European indentured servants and Native Americans resist their lot as well? Walking with staff from York River State Park, participants will discover stories of rebellious conspiracies and courageous runaways and how they overcame the challenging terrain of Tidewater Virginia to elude their oppressors. Reservations are required by calling 757-566-3036 or emailing YorkRiver@dcr.virginia.gov.
- Rebellions and Runaways Along the River from 1-2 p.m.
Enslaved Africans of Colonial Virginia made efforts to secure their freedom long before the Civil War. Discover stories of betrayed uprisings, undaunted maroons and others who stood against tyranny in the Tidewater area.