The Kutt’N’Up dance team performs during the Africatown Juneteenth Festival

The ‘Emerald’ Guide to Juneteenth Events, 2023

by Jas Keimig

Last Updated on June 20, 2023, 9:14 am.

Every year, Black communities celebrate Juneteenth, the day in 1865 when enslaved African Americans in Texas finally got word of their emancipation. The holiday — which gets its name from the contraction of “June” and “nineteenth” — got its start in the South, but with the Great Migration in the 20th century, Black people brought this celebration to their newfound communities across the country, including Seattle. Juneteenth got an even bigger boost in popularity following the George Floyd uprising in 2020, and it became a federal holiday in 2021. 

Here at the South Seattle Emerald, we’ve put together a guide in chronological order to Juneteenth events across the city. Check back for updates!

Know an event that should be on our list? Let us know at

Updated to include events in Renton, Auburn, and online.

Thursday, June 15 Events

Juneteenth Commemoration

Thursday, June 15, 5:30–8 p.m.
Washington State History Museum

Start Juneteenth weekend at the Washington State History Museum’s Juneteenth Commemoration. According to the museum’s website, writers from the African-American Writers’ Alliance will “compose and read original works reflecting on items from the WSHS collection and the historical significance of the holiday.” In addition to hearing local youth writers present their original work, participants will have the opportunity to use a letterpress printer. This commemoration also serves as the official launch of the app Black Washington; the museum writes on the event description that the app will connect users with “the inspiring stories, influential icons, and historic landmarks that have shaped Washington’s Black history.”

Black Arts Legacies Celebration

Thursday, June 15, 6:30–9pm
Washington Hall

Now in its second year, Crosscut’s Black Arts Legacies project is an evolving digital archive that highlights the work and lives of Seattle’s Black arts ecosystem and the essential role Black artists have had in shaping this city. This Black Arts Legacies Celebration toasts the 15 artists featured in the 2023 edition of the project. (Disclaimer: I wrote several profiles for Black Arts Legacies this year.) Come through to hear poetry from Quenton Baker and Jourdan Imani Keith, listen to music from Tiffany Wilson, and chow down on food from That Brown Girl Cooks. There will also be a portrait gallery of Black artists from Meron Menghistab, as well as giveaways (and a cash bar!). 

Friday, June 16 Events

Black Cinema Collective: Finding Fela: Music Is the Weapon

Friday, June 16, to Sunday, June 18, various times
Northwest Film Forum

Though this isn’t strictly a Juneteenth event, Fela Kuti is always worthy of celebration. The Nigerian musician and Afrobeat pioneer shaped music as we know it. In honor of Black Music Month and as part of its Black Sonic Evolutions program, Black Cinema Collective (BCC) will be screening Finding Fela: Music Is the Weapon at Northwest Film Forum. The documentary, directed by Alex Gibney, follows Kuti’s life, specifically highlighting his musical contributions and his revolutionary politics. If you find yourself wanting more after watching the film, head over to the Loving Room, where founder Kristina Clark curated a book selection to complement BCC’s Black Sonic Evolutions program. 

Saturday, June 17 Events

Black Farmers Collective’s Black Liberation Cookout: Celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride & Juneteenth

Saturday, June 17, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
Yes Farm

Spend some time smelling fertile earth at Black Farmers Collective’s Black Liberations Cookout. Celebrating both Pride and Juneteenth, this cookout is a chance for Black folk to commune with nature and one another at Yes Farm. With a menu curated by Chef Stephanie Simmons and ingredients sourced from Yes Farm, eat some grilled chicken or veggie skewers while pursuing wares from Black vendors and pick up some produce from Small Axe Farms. Bring your own blanket or lawn chair to revel in the sun. 

22nd Juneteenth Celebration 

Saturday, June 17, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
Rainier Beach Community Center

For Juneteenth, Atlantic Street Center is throwing its 22nd annual Juneteenth Celebration at the Rainier Beach Community Center. This free, all-ages event will feature local food, entertainment, raffles and prizes, vendors like Public Health — Seattle & King County and Merle the Art Lady, as well as community resources for all to check out. Rainier Avenue Radio will also host a live radio broadcast streaming the event on the radio.

Northwest African American Museum Juneteenth Celebration

Saturday, June 17, Sunday, June 18, and Monday, June 19, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Northwest African American Museum

NAAM has a weekend full of events with a little something for everybody. Celebrations start on Saturday, June 17, with a day of youth programming, including giveaways, storytelling, a soccer clinic, and the debut of the Sistah Scifi vending machine. Saturday features a film fest with five films, including Harriet Tubman: Visions of Freedom, The 1619 Project: Race, and Juneteenth: The Galveston Story. The main celebration takes place on Monday, with Black vendors and food trucks, yoga at Jimi Hendrix Park, and a skate party at Judkins Park. Registration isn’t necessary to attend, but you can RSVP and make a donation at NAAM’s Eventbrite site

Sunday, June 18 Events

Juneteenth: Songs of Black Folk 2023, Music of Resistance & Hope

Sunday, June 18, 7 p.m.
Paramount Theater

Songs of Black Folk returns to Paramount Theater for its second year to celebrate Black musical traditions that have served as both a survival tool and a source of spirituality and joy. The night will feature a wide variety of Black musical genres, following specifically how the Negro Spiritual laid the foundation for gospel, jazz, spoken word, blues, R&B, and hip-hop. Maestro Ramón Bryant Braxton will conduct a 50-piece orchestra to accompany The Choir, a group of 40 Black singers from the Puget Sound Community, as well as an impressive lineup of special guests. Opera singer Soloman Howard, composer-conductor-pianist Darin Atwater, lyric soprano Jacqueline Echols, gospel and R&B singer James Connor, gospel singer Crystal Renee Aikin, and vocalist Josephine Howell are among those featured in the show, which celebrates both local and national talent. KING 5’s Lionel Donovan and 28th District State Sen. T’wina Nobles will emcee this unmissable event. 

Dignity & Pride Auburn Juneteenth Celebration

Sunday, June 18, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Les Gove Park

This free Auburn event celebrates Juneteenth and Father’s Day with a special focus on Black fathers. Check out a pop-up market and food vendors, and let the kids run wild at the spray park and bounce house while enjoying live performances and DJs.

Monday, June 19 Events

Juneteenth Emancipation Day Celebrate Freedom

Monday, June 19, 10–1 p.m.
ILWU Local 19 Hall

The A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) will celebrate Juneteenth with a worker shutdown this year following the firings of International Longshore and Warehouse (ILWU) Local 52 earlier this month during union contract negotiations. Seattle workers join West Coast workers in this work stoppage. APRI plans to hold a rally with guest speakers on the waterfront outside of ILWU Local 19 Hall and then march to the Terminal 46 main truck entrance on Alaskan Way South and Atlantic Street. Bring comfortable shoes and a sign!

King County Equity Now and Africatown Community Land Trust: Talib Kweli & Kevin Ross

Monday, June 19, 12–8 p.m.
Jimi Hendrix Park 

As part of Africatown’s Summer of Soul series, it is teaming up with King County Equity Now to host its Juneteenth celebration in Jimi Hendrix Park this year. Bring your family to check out vendors, eat some food, and take in all the good vibes. There will also be performances by singer-songwriter Kevin Ross and rapper Talib Kweli (who was banned from Twitter for allegedly harassing a journalist and from Instagram for alleged trolling and harassment).

Joe Brazil Legacy Celebrates Juneteenth Freedom Day

Monday, June 19, 12:30–6 p.m.
Carco Theatre, 1717 Maple Valley Hwy, Renton

Hang out with Buffalo Soldiers at this Juneteenth celebration in Renton. The soldiers will be on-site to give demonstrations and riding lessons, sharing their history before a special screening of Buffalo Soldiers: Fighting on Two Fronts. There will be free food, music, speakers, a performance by Black Stax, and former Washington State Rep. Jesse Wineberry joining via video to tell the uncolonized truth of how “we freed us!”

Freedom Flows: A Juneteenth Event Honoring 50 Years of Hip-Hop

Monday, June 19, 7 p.m.
Museum of Pop Culture

For the past 50 years, hip-hop has radically shifted culture around the world, becoming one of the most popular genres and a strong force in fashion. To celebrate its 50th birthday, Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) has curated a pop-up exhibition called My Mic Sounds Nice: Hip-Hop Feminism in History, which highlights how Black women shaped hip-hop as we know it. On Juneteenth, MoPOP will debut this show as well as unveil its Online Hip-Hop Collection Vault. There will also be panels with special guests Sha-Rock, DJ Lady Love, and A Tribe Called Quest’s Jarobi White, as well as dancing with DJ Yaddy. Come for the community, stay for the freestyle rap battle!

Nubia: A Brave New World

Monday, June 19, doors at 7 p.m.
The Moore Theatre

While not strictly a Juneteenth event, what better way to celebrate the beauty of Blackness and queerness than at an all-Black drag show? Featuring RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants no less! At The Moore, Nubia: A Brave New World drag performers Bebe Zahara Benet, Shea Couleé, Yvie Oddly, Mo Heart, Ra’Jah O’Hara, and La La Ri are all bringing their excellence to the stage, where you can expect incredible performances. Bring cash!

A Juneteenth Celebration Featuring the Music of Mavis Staples

Monday, June 19, 7 p.m.
The Royal Room

This community celebration of Juneteenth at The Royal Room features the music of gospel singer and civil rights icon Mavis Staples. Vocalists D’Vonne Lewis, David Dawda, Kate Molloy, Ayesha Brooks, and Dan Taylor will pay tribute to Staples’ impressive catalog of Grammy-winning songs. This event is free, but donations are accepted. Doors are at 6 p.m., and it’s recommended to come early to secure your seat.

SilverKite Community Arts: Celebrating Juneteenth

Wednesday, June 21, 1–2:30 p.m.

If you’re looking for an online event, this virtual Juneteenth celebration is a perfect fit. Facilitated by Merri Ann Osborne and The Mahogany Project, guest speakers and performers will tell the history of Juneteenth through story, song, and reflections. Be prepared to move, dance, journal, and celebrate with music and movement.

Renton Juneteenth Celebration

Sunday, June 25, 12–5 p.m.
Liberty Park, 1101 Bronson Way N.

This family-friendly Juneteenth event has a small vendor market, music, food trucks, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, a bounce house, face painting, and more.

Jas Keimig is a writer and critic based in Seattle. They previously worked on staff at The Stranger, covering visual art, film, music, and stickers. Their work has also appeared in Crosscut, South Seattle Emerald, i-D, Netflix, and The Ticket. They also co-write Unstreamable for Scarecrow Video, a column and screening series highlighting films you can’t find on streaming services. They won a game show once.

📸 Featured Image: The Kutt’N’Up dance team performs during the Africatown Juneteenth Festival, June 19, 2022, at Jimi Hendrix Park. (Photo: Susan Fried)

Before you move on to the next story …
The South Seattle Emerald is brought to you by Rainmakers. Rainmakers give recurring gifts at any amount. With over 1,000 Rainmakers, the Emerald is truly community-driven local media. Help us keep BIPOC-led media free and accessible. 
If just half of our readers signed up to give $6 a month, we wouldn't have to fundraise for the rest of the year. Small amounts make a difference. 
We cannot do this work without you. Become a Rainmaker today!