Local Juneteenth Celebrations Include Theater, Music, and a Parade

'UNMASKED: A Theatrical Celebration of Black Women's Liberation,' filmed at The Wallis, will stream, while LAPL celebrates the work of author Octavia Butler.

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What to Know

  • Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19 each year; 2021 marks the 156th anniversary
  • The holiday commemorates "the true end of slavery" in the United States
  • Plays available to be streamed, a literary happening, a resource fair, and stories and music from the Aquarium of the Pacific are on the 2021 schedule

Coming together to commemorate Juneteenth, an annual holiday that marks the end of slavery, happens in many moving, song-filled, story-laden, community-strong ways.

The upcoming 2021 commemoration is happening on a Saturday, and a number of Southern California events, gatherings that are in-person and virtual, will reflect upon the day's meaning, promise, and hope.

Observed on June 19 each year, Juneteenth commemorates "... the end of slavery in the U.S.," a moment that arrived "... when slaves in Galveston, Texas, were finally informed of their freedom upon the arrival of federal troops on June 19, 1865 — two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and about two months after the end of the Civil War."

The Senate unanimously approved a bill on June 15, 2021 that would make Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Locally, The Wallis and Black Rebirth Collective, Los Angeles Public Library, and the Aquarium of the Pacific are celebrating Juneteenth, as is a parade that will "... include hundreds of vehicles driving through predominantly Black neighborhoods and small businesses in South Los Angeles" (the event is sponsored by NBC4).

The Pacific Wheel at Pacific Park on Santa Monica Pier will pay tribute to Juneteenth on Saturday, June 19 with a dazzling presentation that begins at sunset. The attraction will "... honor Juneteenth with the Ferris Wheel's display of red, white, and blue patterns along with animations and transitions in green, red, and gold for the evening. The colors represent the official Juneteenth flag and the original Pan-African flag."

"UNMASKED: A Theatrical Celebration of Black Women's Liberation" will feature four stories created by Black female playwrights. You can stream all of the plays, which were filmed at The Lovelace Studio Theater at The Wallis, beginning June 19. The presentation is a co-production of the Black Rebirth Collective and the Beverly Hills theater complex. Find ticket info, times, and more now.

The Octavia Lab at LA Public Library's Central Library is honoring the life and work of Octavia E. Butler, the Pasadena-born icon who wove timely themes of justice through a number of celebrated sci-fi stories, throughout the author's birth month of June. Teens are invited to join the "Make A Zine Celebration of Octavia E. Butler and Juneteenth" via Zoom on June 19. Sabine Maxine, the founder of "A Tribe Called Queer," leads the event, which finds inspiration in "Black joy and Octavia E. Butler’s affirmations."

A Juneteenth Celebration & Resource Fair will take place on Friday, June 18 at Earvin "Magic" Johnson Park. The festival will feature giveaways, guest speakers, and more, but due to limited space you'll want to register ahead of the event, which is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 o'clock. Food trucks will be on the grounds, too, if you want to stop by for lunch, and free vaccinations will be available, too (do remember your mask). LA County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell is presenting this convivial gathering.

Baba the Storyteller, an acclaimed folklorist and community activist, will share beautiful tales and West African music during a virtual celebration presented by the Aquarium of the Pacific. If you've been to the Long Beach aquatic institution's annual Africa-American Festival in the past, you may have been lucky to hear this beloved storyteller. The free event begins at 10 a.m. on June 19 (and no RSVP-ing is needed; just head to the aquarium's site and enjoy).

The Skylight Theatre in Los Feliz will present three programs exploring the meaning of "Freedom" during the week of Juneteenth. The themes include "A Look Back/A Look Forward," "We're Not Free Until We're All Free," and "Elation." To find out more about the panelists, artists, and the times of the online productions, visit Skylight's site now.

NBC4 is sponsoring a Juneteenth Parade on Saturday, June 19. The car-filled procession begins at Inglewood High School at 11 a.m., and participants will include Meteorologist Melissa MageeToday in LA Traffic Anchor Robin WinstonAnchor and Reporter Michelle Valles and Today in LA Reporter Toni Guinyard.

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