Celebrating Juneteenth: A list of events in Hampton Roads for the 2021 holiday

Friday is Juneteenth – learn the history behind the holiday
Posted at 9:25 PM, Jun 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-18 18:12:53-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - People in Hampton Roads are coming together to celebrate an important part of American history.

Juneteenthis the oldest known commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. Celebrated on June 19, it marks the day in 1865 that enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, the last of the former Confederate states to abolish slavery, finally heard that the Civil War had ended, and learned that the Emancipation Proclamation had made them free nearly two years earlier.

Last year, Virginia acknowledged Juneteenth with a written proclamation. Gov. Ralph Northam said it is time we elevate the holiday so it is celebrated by everyone.

In October, Virginia lawmakers unanimously passed legislation officially making it a state holiday.

Below is a list of Juneteenth events that will be happening in our area this year:

Newport News

The City of Newport News and the Downtown Newport News Merchants and Neighbors Association, Inc. are partnering to commemorate history with a weeklong celebration of Juneteenth. Citizens are invited to spend the week coming together as a community to learn history while celebrating culture and traditions. Starting Saturday, June 12, and continuing each day through Saturday, June 19, there are a variety of in-person and virtual events for everyone including bingo, a concert, drive-through giveaways, Juneteenth flag raising ceremony, a conversation with Frederick Douglass, a Freedom Festival and more. All events are free and open to the public.

The celebration kicks off on Saturday, June 12 with "Expressions." From 12 p.m. until 2 p.m., visit Denbigh Community Center (15198 Warwick Blvd.), Brittingham-Midtown Community Center (570 McLawhorne Dr.) or Doris Miller Community Center (2814 Wickham Ave.) to receive free giveaway items, purchase food from food trucks and take photos with a curated background.

On Sunday, June 13 from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m., bring a chair or blanket to King-Lincoln Park (600 Jefferson Ave.) and enjoy a free concert featuring Calvary Chapel Newport News Worship Team, Brothers and the Unifics.

Join dignitaries on Monday, June 14 at 1 p.m. at City Hall (2400 Washington Ave.) for the Juneteenth flag raising ceremony and reading of the Emancipation Proclamation and Mayoral Proclamation.

Make Tuesday a family game night! Bring the family out for Juneteenth Bingo happening from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. outside in the pavilion at Brittingham-Midtown Community Center. Win prizes and enjoy food while learning the history of Juneteenth. Space is limited and registration is encouraged.

Visit Denbigh Community Center from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 16 for the "Juneteenth Conversation." Join contemporary historian Dr. Eric Claville with Frederick Douglass for a live interview about the significance and impact of the Emancipation Proclamation and the meaning of Juneteenth. Seating is limited for this event and registration is encouraged.

Thursday, June 17, stay home and log on to Facebookor tune in to NNTV (Cox channel 48 or Verizon Channel 19) to watch the Juneteenth Rally and listen as storyteller Crystal Sessoms shares the story of how the message of freedom was delivered to enslaved people in Texas.

Grab free tickets for "A Journey to Freedom: A Juneteenth Production," happening at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 18 at Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center. Enjoy a screening of this original stage play that takes the audience through the various periods of Black history leading up to Juneteenth Celebration. Seating is limited and free tickets can be obtained online.

Finally, spend the afternoon of Saturday, June 19 celebrating at the Freedom Festival. From 12 p.m. until 4 p.m., visit King-Lincoln Park for live entertainment, food and craft vendors, exhibitors, children’s pony rides, glitter tattoos, and more. This event is still accepting craft vendors and exhibitors. There is no fee to participate as a vendor or exhibitor.

Additional related events include:

  • Newport News Public Library is celebrating Juneteenth with a special exhibit and program. On Saturday, June 19 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., visit the Main Street Library (110 Main St) for the unveiling of a new exhibit, "Until Freedom Comes: The African American Experience in Newport News." This exhibit chronicles the history of African Americans in the city from 1623 to present day.
  • The Contemporary Arts Network Juneteenth Block Party takes place on Saturday, June 19, from 12 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. at CAN HQ (9601 Warwick Blvd.). Enjoy live musical performances, an outdoor boxing showcase, Buy Black Pop-Up vendors, Juneteenth Next Up at the CAN and the opening of the CANTemporaries collaborative exhibition.

Click here to learn more about this weeklong celebration.

June 19

Andrew Shannon FEEDING 5000 (TM) Juneteenth Father's Day Weekend Celebration - We will include a menu of delicious food (while supplies last), and more surprises including "Celebrity Servers" and musical entertainment provided by Doc Christian, who will also serve as the DJ, Rev. Capricia Moses and Rev. Floyd Miles. Social Distancing measures will be in place, Face Masks and other safety precautions are used during all FEEDING 5000 programs and services. All meals are prepared and served in "TO GO" meal boxes. Free Diabetic Eye Screening Courtesy of Sight Forever. Free COVID-19 PCR Testing and Pfizer Vaccines Courtesy of Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute. Join our "Celebrity Servers," and community members for this event at New Beech Grove Baptist Church (361 Beechmont Drive) June 19 at 12:00 p.m.


This year, the City of Norfolk is hosting several events to mark the occasion.

Every day from June 14-19, Norfolk Public Library will post facts about Juneteenth on their social media platforms. On Saturday, June 19, the official Juneteenth holiday, NPL will ask a trivia question on Facebook. You can on the Juneteenth trivia post for a chance to win a prize. NPL will select one random winner to receive a gift certificate to Yendidi Restaurant, specializing in authentic West African cuisine, and a new copy of the book "Four Hundred Souls: A Community of History of African America, 1619-2019."

On Thursday, June 17, enjoy Juneteenth Storytelling with Diane Macklin at 6 p.m. on Zoom. Macklin has performed across the country for venues such as the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Florida Storytelling Festival, National Docent Symposium, National Storytelling Festival's Exchange Place, and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. “I aim to enlighten and make a difference, one story at a time," said Macklin.

Join in the walking tour, Waterways of Freedom, on Saturday, June 19 at 9:30 a.m. starting at 500 E. Main Street. The walk will wander along the Elizabeth River where Dr. Cassandra Newby Alexander, author of “Waterways to Freedom,” will take participants through the history of Norfolk’s waterfront and its ties to slavery. The walk is expected to take 1.5 hours. Space is limited. To place your name on the waitlist, registration is required.

On Saturday, June 19 at 11 a.m., visit the Norfolk Public Library Facebook page to learn about the significance of Juneteenth through the lens of African American Storyteller and Moth StorySLAM Champion Carol Moore. Her style of storytelling is comedic, conversational, and authentic.

Also on Saturday, June 19 at 1 p.m., Norfolk Arts will dedicate the second Bloomberg Asphalt Art Project at 1139 E. Charlotte Street in Tidewater Gardens. The project, titled "The Gathering Place," was painted by resident volunteers working alongside local artist Danettea Evans. "The Gathering Place" mural features images that highlight the history of double-dutch, flowers gathered in community, designs from African American quilts and directional symbols from the Underground Railroad. The street mural incorporates design techniques that promote pedestrian safety. Following the dedication featuring an original poem by Ayana Askew, Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate, a double-dutch showcase will take place. The celebration includes free food, the Norfolk Police Department “Copsicle,” face painting, photo booth and music. "The Gathering Place" is the second of three street murals. Norfolk Arts was awarded $25,000 for three asphalt art projects through Bloomberg Philanthropies. The first mural,"Gathering in Abundance," was installed in Five Points last year. The final mural is planned for September in Denby Park.

On Saturday, June 18, Juneteenth in the Park runs from 12-5 p.m. at Town Point Park in Norfolk and is free and open to the public. It will take place rain or shine.

The first 2,000 guests may receive a complimentary lunch. Food trucks will also be on site offering food and treats at discounted prices.

Games and raffles will take place throughout the day, giving attendees the chance to win prizes such as gift cards.

Health and financial experts will be on-site to help educate guests on their physical, mental and financial wellness.

In addition to free mammograms, first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses will be available on site. Preregistration is available here.

The schedule of events for Juneteenth in the Park can be found below:

  • 12 p.m. - Event opens (Host & Emcee Jim Bibbs)
  • 12-12:30 p.m. - Opening prayer/remarks, Pastor William D. Tyree, III
  • 12:30- 1 p.m. - Rhythm Project Steel Drums
  • 1-2 p.m. - Music break & scavenger hunt prizes
  • 2:10 p.m. - City of Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander
  • 2:15-3 p.m. - Drawings & Giveaways
  • 3- 3:15 p.m. - Dr. Daniel Carey, M.D., Secretary of Health and Human Resources; Dr. Janice Underwood, Ph.D., Chief Diversity Officer, Commonwealth of Virginia
  • 3:15-4 p.m. - Drawings & giveaways
  • 4-4:45 p.m. - Interactive game, “Mythbusters”
  • 4:45 p.m. - Closing prayer, Dr. Geoffrey V. Guns5
  • 5 p.m. - Event ends

The schedule is subject to change. for details.


Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia history and culture, will celebrate Juneteenth at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 19, with an afternoon of reflection, performance, music and interpretive dance to mark the end of slavery in the United States.

Although Juneteenth springs from events that happened in Galveston, Texas, in 1865, this event celebrates liberation from a system of slavery with origins in Jamestown, Va., as the place where the first recorded Africans in 1619 were brought after landing at Old Point Comfort and where the first slave laws enacted in the mid-17th century impacted the lives and status of Africans and their descendants.

Christy S. Coleman, Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Executive Director, will lead Juneteenth events, offering opening and closing remarks. In this thought-provoking 90-minute program of performance, music and dance, visitors will encounter stories of African Americans over the course of three centuries who fought against those laws until freedom came.

Among the first-person portrayals, meet Elizabeth Key, who sued for her freedom in Virginia’s 17th-century courts and won; an 18th-century Black soldier who claimed his freedom by enlisting in the Continental Army’s integrated Rhode Island Regiment during the American Revolution; and Frederick Douglass, a former slave who self-emancipated and became one of the 19th century’s most famous abolitionists.

Presentations will feature Claves Unidos of Richmond, Va., performing “Our Hearts Beat Freedom” through dance, African drums and original interpretive choreography, while Lisa Reid-Williamson and All 4 Christ will provide interludes of song.

Virginia Beach

The Virginia Beach Cultural Affairs Department is excited to announce a weekend of free arts and cultural events celebrating the Juneteenth holiday!

“We’re so happy to be able to use the power of the cultural arts to bring people together in-person for this important celebration,” said Emily Labows, Director of the Virginia Beach Cultural Affairs Department. “We look forward to providing our community with a variety of cultural experiences to connect with their friends, family and neighbors, all while learning about important histories.”

The full schedule of Juneteenth-related Cultural Affairs events, which will run from June 17-20, can be found below:

June 17

Thoroughgood House Expanded Tour Hours; Special Juneteenth-related Tour: Starting June 17, the Thoroughgood House will be open for free tours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

During the evening tours on June 17, guests will experience a new focus tour called “The Enslaved Perspective.” The program will highlight the history of the enslaved individuals who lived and worked on the Thoroughgood House property in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Virginia Beach Public Art Walk: “Portraits from a Place of Grace:" In celebration of Juneteenth weekend, Cultural Affairs will host a FREE Public Art Walk at the future home of the Virginia African American Cultural Center (VAACC) to view the public art installation “Portraits from a Place of Grace.” Richard Hollant’s brilliant work highlights residents from Virginia Beach’s 14 historically African American neighborhoods. Cultural Affairs will also be joined by representatives from VAACC during the tour. Event begins at 4 p.m. on June 17. Please email to RSVP for this event.

June 19

#VBArts on Tour Pop Up Performance in the ViBe Creative District: Starting at 9 a.m. on June 19, the Virginia African American Cultural Center, Tidewater Bluegrass Music Association/St. Juliens Creek Revival and Teens With a Purpose will combine for a joint pop up musical and poetry performance at the ViBe Creative District stage during the ViBe Creative District Old Beach Farmer’s Market. The performances will run throughout the morning.

VBGIGS Presents “Hidden History: The Banjo”: Hidden History: The Banjo” will premiere on Juneteenth as a salute to freedom through expression and creativity. The 60-minute performance includes an array of music, dance, and spoken word poetry from talented local artists including: Rita Cohen from Tidewater African Cultural Alliance, Corey and LaQuita Staten from Atumpan Edutainment, Bill Armstrong from Tidewater Bluegrass Music Association, Kanya Edmonds and Author Kween Yakini. The event was directed by Brittney S. Harris and produced by the Zeiders American Dream Theater. Following the performance, WHRO’s Lisa Godley will lead a community discussion about African and African American Culture, the importance of reconnecting music to cultural origins, and more.

The performance will begin at 2:30 p.m. on June 19 at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts Miller Studio Theatre (201 Market St., Virginia Beach, Va. 23462). Advanced registration is not required, and limited seating is available on a first come, first served basis. Learn more at In accordance with current health and safety guidance, guests who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will not be required to wear a mask or face covering while in the Sandler Center. Those who have not been fully vaccinated yet will be required to wear a mask or face covering.

June 20

To close out the weekend, the Virginia Beach History Museums and Princess Anne Country Training School/Union Kempsville High School Alumni & Friends Association will host a free musical performance to celebrate African American Music Month!This year's African American Music Month Celebration will be held June 20 at the Renaissance Academy grounds (5100 Cleveland St., Virginia Beach, Va. 23462), and features a Hampton Roads’ favorite, TFC Band, with their signature musical blend of Classic Soul, Motown, Funk and more! The show also features vocalist and former Hampton Roads news reporter Becky Livas, as well as a Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador from Teens With a Purpose! Performances will run from 3:30pm-5pm.The Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School Museum will be open starting at 3 p.m. on June 20, and will remain open during and after the show, allowing audiences to learn about the first high school in Virginia Beach for African Americans. Be among the first to visit the museum since COVID-19 restrictions have lifted!


The nonprofit Juneteenth VA will hold a Juneteenth Celebration Festival being held on June 19, from 12-6 p.m. at the Trinity Episcopal Church located at 500 Court St. The event theme is "Healing the wounds of slavery without shame or blame." There will be dance, drama, history, music, vendor tables, food, activities for the children and other live entertainment.


This list will continue to be updated as we learn of more events in our area. If you have an event you'd like added to the list, please email

Related: Embracing American history: Locals celebrate Juneteenth at Fort Mornroe