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Celebrate Juneteenth and African American History Day


The Emancipation Proclamation took effect in 1863, but enslaved people still under Confederate control in some areas of the country did not receive freedom until two years later. Dating to 1965, Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery. Read on for some ways to celebrate locally on June 19.

African American History Day at the Frontier Culture Museum

On June 16, the Frontier Culture Museum will host a family-friendly African American History Day event from 9 am to 5 pm. This event is included with general admission or an annual pass. Demonstrations in cooking, music, family activities, and more will “celebrate the many influences Africans and African Americans have had on American culture.” Visitors should also explore the rest of the 200-acre living history museum and learn about early inhabitants of our area from costumed interpreters. Of special interest is the West African Farm exhibit, which “explores the cultural contributions of African captives who were brought to Virginia in the 1700s.” Captives from many ethnic groups came from all over Africa, but many were Igbo from the West African Coast. The West African Farm demonstrates how free Igbo people lived in Africa in the 1700s. 

Want to learn more? The museum also maintains an archive of video lectures that you can watch on YouTube. They explore various topics, but several relate to the area’s Black experience. Look for Unfree Labor in Early Virginia, Black Lives at Natural Bridge, West Africa and the Slave Trade, and Igbo/West African Masquerade Culture and the Dynamics of the African Diaspora Carnivals.

After a fun day of learning, head to downtown Staunton’s Beverley Street, which closes on the weekends to vehicular traffic. Shop locally in a number of unique stores or grab a meal at one of the restaurants participating in the Shop and Dine in Downtown and Beyond program. Follow individual merchants for additional Juneteenth celebrations.

Nearby Juneteenth Celebrations

Here’s how nearby communities are celebrating Juneteenth this year.

  • Juneteenth Commemoration and Celebration at Montgomery Hall Park in Staunton, June 15th at 11:00 am and 3:00 pm.
  • The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum hosts “Slavery in the Birthplace”, a special guided tour focusing on the experiences of the enslaved people who lived and labored in the Presbyterian Manse where Woodrow Wilson was born.
  • Harrisonburg is holding its annual Juneteenth block party at Pale Fire Brewing Co. on June 16 (3 – 8 pm). Celebrate with food, vendors, card games, kids’ activities,  and music by DJ Goldenboy
  • Juneteenth celebration at Charlottesville’s Jefferson School African American Heritage Center. June 15, 9 am – 3 pm. 
  • Lex Rock BV Juneteenth will happen at Richardson Park in Lexington on June 15 (6:30 – 9 pm). Look for live music, food vendors, and a wing cook-off.
  • Shenandoah National Park celebrates Juneteenth with a fee-free day on June 19.
  • For more Juneteenth events around the state, check out the schedule on the Virginia Tourism Corporation website.
  • While it’s not held on Juneteenth, Staunton’s African-American Heritage Festival (September 21-22) is the oldest of its kind in Virginia. Mark your calendar for this wonderful way to celebrate history and community.

Learn More About the Area’s Black History

The following resources are excellent ways to gain additional knowledge of the Black experience in the Staunton area.

We hope these celebrations and resources help you celebrate Juneteenth and gain a broader understanding of our city’s Black history, culture, and contributions.


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