Commemorating Juneteenth

Juneteenth, or June 19th, is celebrated as the true date that slaves were freed in the United States. While the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863, the message of freedom was not communicated to many in the South until June 19, 1865 (more than 2 years later). On that day, over 250,000 slaves were freed. Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021 and one that the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan will also observe this year on Monday, June 20th with our office closing for staff to participate.

To mark the occasion, we thought it could be helpful to compile a list of resources from media to local events to help provide information on the importance of this day and celebration of African American freedom.

WATCH VIDEO: What is Juneteenth? The holiday's history and significance, explained. | Just the FAQs - Bing video

Resources for Education

Local Events

Juneteenth Celebration Webcast-Honoring the History, Imaging the Future

Hosted by Warner Norcross and Judd and the Grand Rapids Chamber

Friday, June 17

12:00 pm -1:30 pm | Virtual Web Event

Juneteenth Fest

Saturday, June 18

2:00 pm -7:00 pm | John Ball Zoo

Juneteenth Celebration

Saturday, June 18

12:00 pm - 4:00 pm | Joe Taylor Park

Juneteenth Event

Hosted by the Black Impact Collaborative

Saturday, June 18 - Monday, June 20

3:00 pm - 9:00 pm | Calder Plaza

Juneteenth Event – Black Impact Collaborative (

Father's Day & Juneteenth Celebration

Sunday, June 19

4:00 pm | Immanuel Lutheran Church- Big Rapids 

Justice 4 All Juneteenth Jam

Sunday, June 19

1:00 pm -5:00 pm | Rosa Parks Circle

Movie/Documentary List

  • If Beale Street Could Talk- Barry Jenkins
  • Just Mercy- Destin Daniel Crettin
  • Miss Juneteenth- Channing Godfrey Peoples
  • 13th- Ava DuVernay
  • The Hate You Give- George Tillman Jr.
  • I am Not Your Negro- Raoul Peck
  • Set It Off- F. Gary Gray
  • 12 Years a Slave- Steve McQueen
  • Selma- Ava DuVernay
  • Fruitvale Station- Ryan Coogler
  • Black Panther- Ryan Coogler
  • 42- Brian Helgeland
  • Mudbound- Dee Rees
  • Monster- Anthony Mandler
  • Hidden Figures- Theodore Melfi
  • Precious- Lee Daniels
  • Moonlight- Barry Jenkins
  • When They See Us- Ava DuVernay
  • American Son- Kenny Leon
  • See You Yesterday- Stefon Bristol
  • High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America