June 14, 2024

9 ways to celebrate Juneteenth in Indianapolis

Photo provided by The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site

Photo provided by The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
By Destiny Cherry

Although Juneteenth only became a federal holiday in 2021, when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, it has been celebrated every year since 1865, on June 19 to commemorate the ending of slavery.

In Indy, Juneteenth will be celebrated with concerts, poetry, markets, storytelling events and education opportunities for all ages.

1. Juneteenth Foodways Festival 

4:30-8 p.m. June 14, Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, 1230 N. Delaware St. - Free

Learn the story of renowned Black caterer and chef Dolly Johnson and the impact of Black cuisine on American classics, while also supporting local Black-owned businesses. This festival offers the opportunity to eat good food, buy unique souvenirs and enjoy the reenactment of Dolly Johnson’s story with Freetown Village. $20 buys you an early access pass, a swag bag and more perks.

2. Indy Juneteenth Festival & Parade

Festival starts at 10 a.m., parade at noon, June 15, Military Park, 601 W. New York St. - Free

Start your day at the parade, marshaled by Geoffrey A. Gaither, and stay for the festival to hear live music from artists such as DJ Mary Jane, Platinum Recording Group, Kut Klose, Deaon Forever and “American Idol” star Remington Hill. There will also be food trucks, kid zones, VIP areas and a vendor village.

3. Indy Juneteenth at the Indiana State Museum

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 15, Indiana State Museum, 650 W. Washington St. - Free

Immerse yourself in this year’s theme, “History, Health and the Arts,” by engaging with the Asante Art Institute, seeing artifacts from Indy’s past and listening to live performances by artists like Elijah Stephens and the Epiphany Dance Collective. Activities will promote health, creativity and community.

4. Juneteenth and Jazz Community Celebration at the Eiteljorg

11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 15, Eiteljorg Museum, 500 W. Washington St. - Free

There will be live performances by the Rob Dixon Quartet, Cassius Goens Quartet, Dr. Tammy L. Cooper, Asante Art Institute and SITEAW Drum Circle, and poetry readings by Patrice Stokes. Visit vendors including Window Nation, jeweler Hamadane Ittifi and Books & Beyond.

5. Center for Black Literature and Culture Bookfest and Juneteenth Celebration

11 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 15, Central Library, 40 E. St. Clair St. - Free

Listen to poet Januarie York perform, watch a film from IU Bloomington’s Black Film & Center and Archive, enjoy African drumming by Siteaw Inc., and hear music by Jamie Johnson. To remember this day, make sure to get your pic in the 360-degree photo booth.

6. Juneteenth Black Heritage Concert at Indiana Landmarks

6-8 p.m. June 16, Indiana Landmarks Center, 1201 Central Ave. - $20-$50

Hear performers like Ethel McCane, DJ Kyle Long and Tad Robinson at the blues concert. Buy a VIP ticket to see a play by Bloomington’s Resilience Productions about the history of Juneteenth before the concert.

7. Juneteenth Celebration and Vendor Fair

Noon to 5 p.m. June 16, MXP Shop, 7826 N Michigan Road. - Free

At MXP Shop’s Celebration of Freedom you can enjoy live music and entertainment, and connect with Black-owned local brands and businesses.

8. Juneteenth Celebration at Crown Hill Cemetery

4-8 p.m. June 15, the Meadow at Crown Hill Cemetery, 700 W. 38th St. - Free

This is a “BYOLC” event (bring your own lawn chairs). Relax and enjoy food and performances by artists such as Rob Dixon, Bashiri Asad and the Tony Bryant Project — all presented by emcee Thomas “Sparklesoxx” Griffin.

9.  Juneteenth Block Party at Ujamaa Community Bookstore

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 19, Ujamaa Community Bookstore, 2424 Dr. M.L.K. Jr St. - Free

Celebrate with literature, food, music and art. Because Ujamaa opened on Juneteenth 2021, this is a celebration of the holiday that sparked their creation and their mission of uplifting Black authors, telling the story of the African diaspora.

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