Juneteenth in the Triangle: Your guide to historic tours, exhibits, events and festivals

By Heather Leah, WRAL multiplatform producer

Juneteenth commemorates the abolition of slavery in the United States. The first Juneteenth was June 19, 1865, when in the aftermath of the Civil War, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to take control and ensure the freedom of all enslaved men, women and children.

Considered the longest-running African American holiday, Juneteenth was finally recognized as a federal holiday on June 17, 2021 – a full 156 years after it was first celebrated.

The Triangle offers an enormous range of opportunities to celebrate Juneteenth – whether by taking tours of museums and historic sites or enjoying live music, food and celebrations. Here’s a guide to Juneteenth events and tours in the Triangle.

Juneteenth event at Dix Park
Juneteenth event in Dix Park in Raleigh

Juneteenth events and tours in Raleigh

Capital City Juneteenth Celebration

The Capital City Juneteenth Celebration offers a collection of events all across Raleigh over the course of the week and weekend leading up to Juneteenth.

Dix Park Juneteenth Celebration -Saturday, June 18 from 1 to 6 p.m.

Enjoy a beautiful day of celebration, culture and learning at Dorothea Dix Park. Grab your lawn chairs and blankets for an afternoon of music, spoken word and performances by African American artists. There will be vendors, children’s activities, exhibits, inflatables, food trucks and more. The event is free and family-friendly with a goal of “celebrating the freedom of formerly enslaved African Americans by acknowledging their history and achievements through commemorative and historical services and activities.” For more information, take a look at this website.

NC State Capitol Juneteenth Tours – Saturday, June 18 at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Themed tours will offer insight on the stories of the enslaved African Americans whose skill and labor created and maintained the NC State Capitol building. Tours are free, but participants are asked to register in advance.

An exhibit called “Freedom Stories” will feature the names and stories of enslaved individuals who played a role in building the Capitol – and whose stories also include emancipation.

Representatives from the State Archives of North Carolina will also be on-site to discuss African American genealogical resources available through the archives.

NC Museum of History Juneteenth exhibit – Friday, June 17 from 1 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.

The North Carolina Museum of History has an afternoon of Juneteenth-inspired activities from 1 to 4 p.m. Visitors are invited to view exhibits and watch interactive history — like Neal Thomas making split-oak baskets like those used by families at early Juneteenth celebrations, or meeting members of the US Colored Light Artillery Civil War re-enactors, who will tell stories of the courageous soldiers struggle for freedom and citizenship during the Civil War.

From 7 to 9 p.m., guests can visit the Daniels Auditorium for a free viewing of a new documentary called George Henry White: Searching for Freedom. More details for both events can be found here.

Chavis Park carousel
The Chavis Park carousel, built around 1916, opened at Chavis Park in 1937. It will reopen to the public after a massive renovation on April 20.

John Chavis Memorial Park Juneteenth Jubilee – All week

John Chavis Memorial Park is offering a week of events to commemorate and celebrate Juneteenth. Their full list of events can be found on their website.

Juneteenth on Canvas – Wednesday, June 15 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Enjoy a relaxing evening at Chavis Park while painting Juneteenth-inspired art and listening to live jazz from saxophonist Jashuan Peele.

African Fashion Show – Thursday, June 16 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Come to Chavis Park for a live fashion show. Learn about African fashion, traditions and inspiration from the African continent. Fashion for all ages will be represented and presented by Jacha Trends African Clothing, a division of KroCia, LLC.

Juneteenth Festival at the park – Friday, June 17 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Celebrate a fun-filled day at John Chavis Memorial Park! The festival will include bouncy inflatables, a splash pad, live music, food trucks and more! A full schedule of events can be found on their website.

Pope House Museum
The Pope House Museum is a century-old home of NC’s first licensed Black doctor.

Pope House Museum Juneteenth events: June 18 and 19

Walk through the real, century-old home of North Carolina’s first licensed Black doctor. Celebrate Raleigh’s African American history with walking tours, games and crafts, music, giveaways and many other free, family-friendly activities. For location and a full schedule of events, check out the Pope House Museum website.

Oberlin Village 5K – Saturday, June 18 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Take a run to support Historic Oberlin Village, one of the only remaining Freedmen’s Villages established by men and women freed from slavery in Raleigh after the Civil War.

The Friends of Oberlin Village are presenting the 1st Annual Oberlin Village Heritage 5K Run at Dix Park, with funds going to preserve Oberlin Village’s rich history, contributions and achievements.

The 5K will start at 8 a.m., and costs $40-$45. There’s a Kids Dash at 9 a.m., and that costs $5. The pop-up museum will take place from 8 to 11 a.m. and is free. Take a look at their website for more details.

Mt. Hope Cemetery
A crowd of around 50 people gathered for a walking tour of the rolling green hills of Mt. Hope Cemetery, one of Raleigh’s earliest municipal African American cemeteries.

Mt. Hope Cemetery tour – Saturday, June 18 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Enjoy a beautiful walking tour through Mt. Hope Cemetery, a historic African-American cemetery established in 1872.

Many historic and trailblazing members of Raleigh’s African American community are buried here, some who were once enslaved. Lead by historian and native Raleighite Carmen Cauthen, you’ll hear stories of leaders like Clarence Lightner, Dr. Manassa Pope and Bishop Henry Delany – pioneers who paved the way and built the Raleigh we know and love today. For more details and the location, take a look at the event page.

Juneteenth events and tours in Durham

Hayti Heritage Center Juneteenth event – Friday, June 17 from 1 to 9 p.m.

The historic Hayti community of Durham was once a thriving business and residential district dubbed “Black Wall Street” by Booker T. Washington. Visit the historic neighborhood for an art and business walk including vendors, a youth market, live music, food trucks and more. More details can be found on their Facebook page.

NC Juneteenth Celebration – Saturday, June 18 from 1 to 10 p.m.

The officially opening ceremony kicks off with a processional of dancers and drummers, followed by a presentation by the United States Colored Troops, prayer, proclamations, pouring of the libation and presentations on the history of Juneteenth.

Enjoy a fashion show of Afro-centric clothing, live music, vendors with an array of African and African American clothing, art, specialty items, crafts and food. There will be a Children’s Village with face painting and games. For full details and location, take a look at their website.

Cary Arts Center
The Cary Arts Center lit up to honor Juneteenth. Image courtesy of the Town of Cary website.

Other Juneteenth events around the Triangle

Downtown Cary Juneteenth event – Sunday, June 19 from 3 to 4:30

Come gather at the Old Library Site on Academy Street for food, stories and live music that commemorate the history and culture of Juneteenth. The event begins with a procession, libation and proclamation. Stay for the NC Freedom Story of Harriet Ann Jacobs and enjoy a drum-line and freedom dance.

The Cary Arts Center will be lit in red, yellow, and green to honor the heritage and meaning of the day.

For a full list of Juneteenth events in Cary this weekend, take a look at the Town of Cary website.

Hargraves Community Center in Chapel Hill – Sunday, June 19 from 2 to 6 p.m.

A coalition of local organizations invites you to be a part of Chapel Hill-Carrboro Juneteenth Celebration! Celebrate Black community and culture with live performances, Black-owned small business and non-profit expos, kids activities, food trucks, and more. For a full list of activities and performers, take a look at their website.

Did we miss any Juneteenth events in the Triangle?

Let us know about any upcoming Juneteenth events this week and weekend by contacting us at Report It.

Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Heather Leah for this Capcom story.

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