What’s on the Docket, Denver? A Guide to the City’s Juneteenth Celebrations

Earlier this year, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and Councilman Christopher Herndon announced the official adoption of a proposal establishing Juneteenth as an official commemorative holiday in Denver.

“I’m proud to have helped make Juneteenth a citywide, commemorative holiday to elevate the experience of the African Americans in our city and across the country,” Mayor Hancock said. “This long overdue recognition honors African American freedom, history and achievement and renews Denver’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.”

Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, African Americans in Galveston, Texas learned of their freedom, two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Among many local celebrations is Denver’s Juneteenth Music Festival. JMF Corp, a non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating freedom through community engagement, partners with Mile High Festivals to host the event, which is one of the nation’s largest Juneteenth celebrations.

For its 10th anniversary, the music festival is back with new elements including musical performances, vendors and the famous Juneteenth Parade. It all kicks off Friday, June 18 at 2pm with the Juneteenth Music Festival Preview Show.

“Additions like the Summer R&B Kick Off, mark the Juneteenth Music Festival’s expansion beyond its original Welton Street footprint,” Adra Williams, Event Development and Communications at JMF Corp said. “It’s a testament to a wider acceptance of the social disparities that the recognition of Juneteenth represents, partially owing to the social justice movements of 2020.”

There are three ways to support the festival; join, donate, and sign the petition to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. This year’s Juneteenth Music Festival events and activities include:

Tuesday, June 15

Cheba Hut: By eating at any of the 14 Colorado Cheba Hut locations, patrons can support the Juneteenth Music Festival where a portion of proceeds from onsite and delivery sales will help fund community entrepreneurs and artists.

Friday, June 18

Juneteenth Music Festival Preview Show | 2 – 8pm: Tune into the 6-hour broadcast hosted by Oren Lomena beginning at 2pm for a taste of what to expect throughout the weekend. The show features live performances from Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, R&B artist Last Supper, live discussions with members of the community and the presentation of the 2021 Dream Big Awards. The program can be viewed via social media channels, Livestream, or Denver Community Media channels 56 and 881HD.

Juneteenth R&B Summer Kick Off | 5:30 – 10pm: Kick off the weekend with an outdoor concert at Levitt Pavilion featuring musical artist 122. Get your tickets here.

Saturday, June 19

Juneteenth Parade | Sat. 9am Staging, 11am Start: Staging begins at 9am at Manual High School on 26th Ave. and Williams St. Register your organization to be part of the parade or watch as the parade passes by 26th Ave on Welton St. into the Historic Five Points district.

Saturday, June 19 | Noon – 8pm & Sunday, June 20 | 2 – 8pm

Juneteenth Street Festival at Welton Plaza: Walk along 10 city blocks of food vendors, artisan merchants and interactive activities all set between performance stages and the Juneteenth Kid’s Zone.

Denver Black Pride at Charles Cousins Plaza: In partnership with The Center on Colfax, producer of Denver’s Black Pride Festival, JMF is hosting “To the Beat of the Drum,” a celebration including live musicians and DJ sets.

Five Points of Culture at Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Studio: Join the conversation with educational panels and round tables during the festival and learn about seven decades of the iconic Five Points celebration from the Juneteenth Museum.

Additional Juneteenth events: