Foreword from Judith B. Thomas, Deputy Mayor of Neighborhood Engagement, City of Indianapolis.
Over the next several days, Downtown Indy and the greater Indianapolis area will celebrate Juneteenth, established to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.
June 19, 1865, known as Juneteenth, represents the emancipation of the last of those enslaved in the United States. Although slavery was abolished in 1863, there were over 250,000 Black Americans still enslaved in Texas, the final state to officially abolish slavery.
The name, entitled from a combination of the date itself, “June” “Nineteenth”, remains a cornerstone of Downtown’s yearly experiences, celebrating Black culture, stories and identity within our community. Leading up to the federal holiday on Monday, June 19, local art and cultural organizations along with community partners around the city will present a variety of programming and activities for residents and visitors to engage with.
Learn, connect, eat, drink, dance, watch, create, inspire, and celebrate here in Downtown Indy in honor of Juneteenth. Read below for recommendations, and visit Indy Juneteenth Inc.’s website for a complete list of city-wide Juneteenth experiences: www.indyjuneteenth.org
Indy Juneteenth Parade and Festival
The annual Juneteenth Parade and Festival is back for its sixth year! As the official Juneteenth celebration for the state of Indiana, this memorable experience will include a parade Downtown beginning on North and Pennsylvania Streets followed by a lively festival in Military Park. Attendees will be able to explore more than 200 vendors, live performances and music, 20+ food trucks, a health-and-wellness village, and much more. The parade will kick-off at 10 a.m. followed by the festival at noon. Join the fun at this free event where everyone is welcome!
This Friday, June 16, come out to Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site for the Juneteenth Foodways Festival, honoring African American caterer and chef Dolly Johnson and her revolutionary All-American cuisine. Hired by President Harrison as White House head chef in 1889, the festival will highlight Dolly’s story through a live reenactment and also features food offerings from a variety of Black-owned restaurants and caterers across Indianapolis. Dig in and learn about Black foodways contributions to American culture!
The Indiana State Museum is offering free admission and a family-friendly celebration honoring Juneteenth this Saturday, June 17. Witness a Juneteenth drum circle performance, take a curated tour of the museum’s Influencing Lincoln exhibit, be part of a community chalk mural, make your own activist sticker, and more! Visit the State Museum’s website for specific performance and tour times.
Maximize your Juneteenth weekend with a free community concert! The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art is hosting a Juneteenth and Jazz Community Celebration with live performances, art-making activities, and free admission for all. Spend the day listening to talented musicians, making unique creations, and enjoying time with friends and family!
Emphasizing cultural literacy, the Indianapolis Public Library’s Center for Black Literature & Culture (CBLC) is bringing together poets, visual artists, storytellers, musicians, and book clubs to commemorate Juneteenth and its importance. Attend a moderated conversation with Galveston native Fay Williams, Esq. and learn about the history of Juneteenth. There will also be a 360 photo booth with DJ IN4RED and kid-friendly activities throughout.
As part of the Madam Walker Legacy Center’s annual Legacy Fest, enjoy a delicious culinary spread with friends and family at the Juneteenth Brunch this Sunday. With catering from Chef Dan's Southern Comfort, indulge in soul-food favorites and refreshing drinks while enjoying live music, interactive activities, and educational exhibits showing the dynamic history and culture of Juneteenth.
Any arts-related attraction you’re seeking this Juneteenth can be found at Newfields, just a short drive from Downtown! Free all-day general admission will provide you with opportunities for art making activities, live music, special galleries, food and drink options at Garden Terrace, and walks through all 52-acres of The Garden in celebration of Juneteenth.
Indiana’s vibrant Black history and culture will be celebrated at the Juneteenth Black Heritage Concert and Art Show at Indiana Landmarks. Admire artwork from Indy artists and listen to a talented line-up of performers, including gospel group Men in the Fire and R&B collective The Downstroke Band, all in the spirit of Juneteenth. Tickets are on-sale now on Indiana Landmarks’ website.
Hear from Queen Afua, Supanova Slom, Raheem DeVaughn and other renowned speakers at the GLAM Juneteenth Conference this upcoming Monday, June 19. Taking place at the Biltwell Event Center, guest speakers will take part in panel discussions on a variety of topics including allopathic medicine, holistic medicine, mindfulness and well-being.
Join The Indianapolis Black Firefighters Association on Juneteenth for a Peace March and Community Celebration. The walk will begin at the Firefighters Union Hall along Mass Ave and will continue down College Ave to a grand finale at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park. Get ready for food trucks, live music, and guest speakers to celebrate the occasion!