On the last days of spring in 1865 — two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and ended slavery in most Condederate states — a Union general named Gordon Granger led troops to Galeveston, Texas, to enforce the new laws.
The story goes that Granger, on June 19, informed enslaved African Americans that the Civil War was over, the Confederacy was defeated, and enslaved African Americans were now free. In fact, according to historian Susan Anderson at the California African American Museum, most African Americans in Texas already knew about the Emancipation Proclamation. Granger and some 50,000 U.S. troops had really come to Texas to make sure that white Texans, many of whom opposed emancipation, followed the new law.
Nevertheless, the celebration that ensued across southern states became known as Juneteenth. And those celebrations have been common among African American communities for generations. More recently, in June 2021, following the murder of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests, President Joe Biden signed a bill designating Juneteenth as a federal holiday.
Now there are lots of ways to honor Juneteenth in Los Angeles. Danielle Dorsey, West Coast editor at Thrillist, compiled a full list of events for her publication, and shares her top picks with KCRW.
Prosperity Market pop-up farmers market
Sunday, June 19, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
California African American Museum (CAAM), 600 State Dr., Los Angeles
Purchase produce and other handmade items from Black farmers and vendors in person, or shop the virtual farmers market. “The virtual farmers market is spearheaded by two young Black women who are working to provide fresh produce to food deserts and support Black farmers and agriculture,” says Dorsey. “It's a really great mission to contribute to.”
Leimert Park Rising: Juneteenth Festival
Saturday, June 18, 12 to 9 p.m.
4331 Degnan Blvd, Leimert Park Village
Dorsey says Leimert Park Rising is a full day of art, music, dance, pan-African food and education – and one of the most well-attended events in the city. You can follow the festival on Instagram for more information, and be sure to RSVP online.
City of Santa Monica’s 30th Annual Juneteenth Celebration
Saturday, June 18, 1 to 7 p.m.
Virginia Avenue Park, 2200 Virginia Ave., Santa Monica
The City of Santa Monica has been celebrating Juneteenth since local resident LaVerne Ross encouraged the city to recognize the holiday 30 years ago. Dorsey says this year’s celebration includes recitations of original Juneteenth texts and closing remarks from Ross, alongside more than a dozen food, clothing, jewelry, and art vendors — plus a children’s craft area and community resource center.
Fixins Presents: Juneteenth at LA Live
Saturday, June 18, 3 p.m.
Xbox Plaza at LA Live, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles
This is a full day of food, music and games, hosted by Fixins Soul Kitchen in downtown LA. “If you are craving some Southern staples, like shrimp and grits or fried chicken, that is the place to go,” Dorsey says. “They're going to have lawn games, a beer garden, and tickets are just $16.95.”
Gather For Good: Pies for Justice
Saturday and Sunday, June 18-19
For folks who want to avoid crowds and contribute to a good cause, there’s Gather for Good’s annual charity pie sale. “Countless LA restaurants and chefs are contributing one-of-a-kind creations,” Dorsey says. Proceeds will be split between Kindred Space LA, which is a Black-owned birthing center in South LA and Everytown, an organization fighting to end gun violence.