On June 19th, 1865, slavery came to its official end in America. The holiday, now known as Juneteenth, holds extra-special significance this year in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the mass worldwide demonstrations that have followed.
In spite of the pandemic, there are countless IRL events—think socially distanced barbecues, bike rallies, protests, and more—planned to honor the day around the Bay Area; there are also numerous virtual tributes in the form of theater, music, and film. Here are a few good ways to reflect, gather, and commemorate Juneteenth in 2020.
Harlem of the West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era
Learn about jazz history and the West Coast African-American experience with documentary filmmaker and writer Elizabeth Pepin Silva and photographer and archivist Lewis Watts. In addition to watching a slideshow presentation, you'll hear about the new edition of Harlem of the West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era, which features photographs, memorabilia, and interviews with Fillmore jazz musicians. // Noon on Friday, June 19; details on moadsf.org.
The Unapologetic African-American Cultural Healing Celebration & Community Healing Session
Hosted by BBQ'n While Black and Queen Hippy Gypsy, this is an afternoon, socially distanced outdoor party. BYO mask and come prepared to share good food, live music, and love. // 2-5pm June 20 at Mosswood Park (Oakland); find more info on Instagram.
MoAD Hosts Chef Bryant Terry & Musician Marcus Shelby
San Francisco's Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) has a lineup of solid Juneteenth content today, beginning with an IG Live chat (3pm) with MoAD's chef-in-residence Bryant Terry, who will "talk to noted creatives of African descent about how they have been navigating work and life during the stay-at-home order." Afterward, head over to Zoom for a special Juneteenth blues performance and presentation (4pm) by SF's beloved composer/bassist Marcus Shelby. // "Choppin' It Up" with chef Bryant Terry is free to join, 3-4pm on Instagram. "Juneteenth and the Blues" with Marcus Shelby is pay what you can, 4pm on Zoom; pre-register here.
"Polar Bears, Black Boys & Prairie Fringed Orchids": A Juneteenth Theatre Justice Project
More than 30 theaters from around the West Coast—including Berkeley Rep, A.C.T., and Oregon Shakespeare Festival—have teamed up for a free Zoom reading of Vincent Terrell Durham's timely play about the meeting of a well-intentioned white liberal couple and Black Lives Matter activists. Suggested donations will supply funding for black theater projects across the country. // 7pm, June 19; for information and advance reservations (required), go to playground-sf.org.
SF Recovery Theatre Presents David Mamet's "Race"
The virtual show goes on this Friday at PianoFight, which has collaborated with SF Recovery Theatre for a dramatic reading of "Race," by playwright David Mamet. // 7:30pm on Zoom; go to pianofight.com.
La Cocina's Juneteenth Community Food Box
Pony up for some delicious eats prepared by La Cocina's black entrepreneurs and know that you'll be directly supporting local black-owned restaurants. Special Juneteenth food boxes come with options for vegetarians and omnivores, and include grub from Crumble & Whisk, Minnie Bell's, A Girl Named Pinky, Teranga, and more. // Pricing is tiered; for menus and rates, go to La Cocina's Instagram.
Join a protest, bike rally, or drum circle.
Juneteenth celebrations and tributes are in full gear this year, with countless events, both virtual and IRL, around the Bay Area and beyond. Our friends at KQED have published an excellent list—check it out at kqed.org.
African-American Shakespeare Company's "Talk-Back" Series
On Saturday June 20th, SF's African-American Shakespeare Company continues the Juneteenth vibes with a special online conversation with Colman Domingo, a Tony-nominated actor (The Butler, Selma) who once took a star turn on the AASC stage. In the style of Inside the Actor's Studio, the series will be hosted by AASC Artistic Director L. Peter Callender, who will interview Domingo "about his career, the current state of race in American theater, Black Lives Matter, and other subjects as the nation honors Juneteenth." Spend Friday watching Selma to get in the groove of the things. // 4pm, Saturday June 20 on Zoom; advance registration for the talk-back is required; go to www.african-americanshakes.org.