San Francisco

15 Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth in the Bay Area

From jazz concerts to free museum visits and more, here's how to celebrate Freedom Day across nine Bay Area counties.

Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House

Referred to as Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, and Liberation Day, but most commonly known as Juneteenth, it holds distinction as the oldest holiday that celebrates the liberation of enslaved people in the US. Two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Emancipation Proclamation, 250,000 Black people were still enslaved in Texas, brought there by slaveholders who sought to evade the executive order. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger and 2,000 Union soldiers arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, to enforce the edict and grant a quarter-million captives their freedom.

For many years, the holiday was celebrated primarily within Black communities, though festivities spanned across the country and even as far as Mexico. Following the civil unrest of 2020, many came forward demanding accountability for the Black lives that were taken through police brutality, the prison industrial complex, and racial disparities impacting the Black community. When the Senate voted Juneteenth as a federally recognized holiday in 2021, it marked a milestone in American history by openly acknowledging the enslavement of Black ancestors as well as the forced labour that built this country and cost millions of Black lives.

Here in the Bay Area, there’s a strong legacy of celebrating Juneteenth in places like Oakland and Berkeley, while other communities are celebrating for the first time this year. From San Francisco to Marin County, Santa Clara, and even Napa, here are 15 ways to celebrate Juneteenth in the Bay Area, spanning music and food festivals, family-friendly activities, and more:

ILLUMINATE
ILLUMINATE
ILLUMINATE

Jazzteenth

Friday, June 17–Saturday, June 18
Golden Gate Park Bandshell, San Francisco
In Golden Gate Park, Illuminate and The Fillmore Jazz Ambassadors will host two days of jazz music. Go on opening day on Friday, June 17, when five-time Grammy winner Victor Wooten and the Wooten Brothers will play from 5–7 pm, or on Saturday, June 18, to enjoy musical acts like the John Coltrane Church Ensemble, Lady Bianca, The Charles Unger Experience, Robin Duhe, and Fillmore Slim, performing from 12 noon to 4 pm. You can also visit artist Dana King’s Monumental Reckoning, a collection of 350 ancestral sculptures that encircle the vacant plinth of the slaveholder Frances Scott Key that was partially toppled by protesters on Juneteenth 2020. The installation will remain in place until June 20, 2023.

American Canyon Family Day Juneteenth celebration

Sunday, June 19
Main Street Park, Napa Valley
The inaugural Juneteenth celebration for American Canyon is presented in partnership with the American Canyon Arts Foundation, including a free event with keynote speeches from Paul Cobb of Post News Group and Dr. Sarah Rush, the great granddaughter of Booker T. Washington, to name a few. Food trucks and vendors will be on hand, as well as live performances from Bow Hammer Skins and the West Coast Caravan of All Stars, plus a gospel hour from 1–2 pm featuring the Allen Temple B.C. Male Chorus. A kid zone will be available from 12–4 pm, in addition to Father’s Day raffles. Limited reserved seating is available for $30 per person by emailing [email protected] or calling 707-645-8840.

Hip Hop for Change
Hip Hop for Change
Hip Hop for Change

Mill Valley Freedom Festival

Saturday, June 18
Mill Valley Downtown Plaza, Mill Valley
Just 15 miles north of San Francisco, the City of Mill Valley will host its inaugural Juneteenth event on Saturday from 11 am–3 pm. In coordination with the Mill Valley Force for Racial Equity & Empowerment (MVFREE), the celebration will include poetry, storytelling, live music, and DJs from around the Bay Area. Hip Hop for Change will be there to celebrate diversity and amplify Black voices, while DJ Saurus, Jazz Mafia, Deuce Eclipse, DayLite and Unlearn the World play some of your favorites songs.

Berkeley California Juneteenth Festival
Berkeley California Juneteenth Festival
Berkeley California Juneteenth Festival

35th Annual Berkeley Juneteenth Festival

Sunday, June 19
Adeline St and Alcatraz Ave, Berkeley
Held annually since 1986, Berkeley’s festival is the longest running Juneteenth event in Northern California. Held in South Berkeley’s Alcatraz-Adeline Corridor, the free and public festival will include an art exhibit, community resources, drumming, arts and crafts, food vendors, marching bands, and two entertainment stages from 11 am–7 pm. Kiddos can climb a rock wall, skate, and participate in STEM activities in the Kid/STEM Zone. On the RD Bonds Main Stage, visitors can listen to jazz, blues, neo-soul, gospel, R&B, and reggae from acts like Sonny Fairley, Ronnie Mills, Theo-Sambafunk, and more. The Lothario Lotho Stage will feature performances geared towards young adults, including youth gospel choirs, jazz workshops, and spoken word.

Suisun City Juneteenth Family event

Saturday, June 18
Suisun Waterfront, Suisun City
This will be the first year that Suisun City is hosting Juneteenth celebrations. The theme of the free event is promoting family values and Black culture. Hosted by Suisun City Juneteenth Committee in partnership with The Suisun City Youth Commission, R.E.A.L Fairfield, and Tri-City NAACP, the family-friendly festival will be held from 11 am to 5 pm, including storytime with Solano County Library, chess matches for all skill levels, a paint party, yoga, bounce houses, and more, plus live entertainment featuring speakers, musicians, and poets.

OAK FAM BAM
OAK FAM BAM
OAK FAM BAM

Afrocentric Juneteenth, Oakland’s Fam Bam, and Pan African Wellness Festival

Saturday, June 18–Sunday, June 19
Lake Merritt Amphitheater, Oakland
Head to Oakland to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Pan African Wellness Fest and Fam Bam Juneteenth Celebration with two full days of festivities. On Saturday, June 18, you can enjoy holistic wellness spanning meditation, mental health, Tai Chi, yoga, self-defence, spoken word, a silent disco, interactive art installations, a youth zone, keynote speakers, food vendors, and more. On Sunday, you can turn up with the Fam Bam X celebration that promotes family, community, culture, and love with DJs, inspirational art, a youth zone, a Black Father’s Day tribute, and more. A limited number of cabanas will be available to reserve on day two of the festival. Tickets are available for purchase online.

Tiburon Second Annual Juneteenth Celebration

Friday, June 17
46 B Main Street, Tiburon
Hosted by the Tiburon Peninsula Chamber of Commerce from 4–7 pm, the city of Tiburon’s second annual Juneteenth celebration will include live jazz and poetry readings, in addition to appearances by Black cowboys.

Sixth Annual Marin City Juneteenth Festival

Sunday, June 19
Rocky Graham Park, Marin County
Marin City’s sixth annual Juneteenth celebration has a theme of “Looking Towards the Future,” with festivities from 10:30 am to 6 pm, including an opening ceremony of traditional drumming, followed by gospel, r&b, and jazz performances, youth dance performances, and an African Marketplace featuring local businesses like Caribbean Spice Food Truck and Clotile’s Fried Fish and Oysters, plus Ethiopian coffee, barbecue, tacos, and more. There will also be retail vendors, skin and haircare, art, and more. While the event is free, there’s a VIP option for $150, which includes a padded seat in the Rocky Graham Amphitheater, an entree, beverage and dessert of choice, wait service, and valet parking. Sign up to be a volunteer to help the festivities run a little smoother for everyone to enjoy.

Grand Nationxl
Grand Nationxl
Grand Nationxl

Grand Nationxl Juneteenth Fake Ass Festival

Saturday, June 18
New Parish, Oakland
This Juneteenth celebration is unlike anything else you will experience over the holiday weekend. The all-ages music festival is hosted by the artist collective Grand Nationxl, featuring local talent and Black indie artists who are typically passed over by big festivals. The fun begins at 6 pm, with a Black market, gaming tournaments of dominoes, spades, and dice hosted by UPLFTRS, food hosted by Regulars Only, plus performances by Dame Drummer, Zharmilla, Roux Shankle, Karega Bailey, and more. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online.

Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD)
Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD)
Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD)

Juneteenth Freedom Day @ Museum of African Diaspora (MoAD)

Saturday, June 18
Museum of African Diaspora, San Francisco
In celebration of Juneteenth, San Francisco’s Museum of African Diaspora will offer free entry to all visitors on Saturday from 11 am–6 pm. The museum will be closed on Sunday, June 19, so that museum staff can celebrate the holiday and enjoy a day of rest. In addition to complimentary access to current exhibits like Elegies: Still Lifes in Contemporary Art; David Huffman, Terra Incognita; and Sam Vernon: Impasse of Desires, the museum is also offering virtual activities including an informal discussion called “Art As We See It” on representation and equality, paired with music from 11 am–noon. For those who decide to visit in-person, St. Gabriel’s Celestial Brass Band will lead a second line processional and perform in MoAD’s salon from 12–2 pm. For virtual and in-person visitors, Professor Daina Ramey Berry will host a historic presentation called Juneteenth: A Day of Jubilee from 3–4 pm in the MoAD Salon. Register for the virtual event online.

Richmond Juneteenth Family Day and Festival

Saturday, June 18
Parade begins at Booker T. Anderson Community Center and ends at Nicholl Park, Richmond
Get ready for the Richmond Juneteenth parade to take to the streets at 10am at Booker T. Anderson Community Center. Hosted by The Neighborhood Block Association (NBA), an organization created to save Richmond’s Juneteenth celebrations after city officials cancelled all festivals due to financial hardships in 2004. In previous years, the City of Richmond has drawn large crowds with headlining performances from 90s groups like Cameo and soul singer Dawn Robinson of R&B groups Lucy Pearl and En Vogue. This year there’s no telling who may wow the crowd, but expect live music, food, and more. The festival begins at Nicholl Park at 11:30 am and ends at 6 pm.

Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House

Celebrate Juneteenth at the Ruth Williams Memorial Theater

Thursday, June 16–Sunday, June 19
Bayview Opera House and Gilman Park, San Francisco
The neighbourhood Bayview-Hunters Point is home to the largest Black community in San Francisco, as well as the historic Bayview Opera House (BVOH), which was built in 1888 and is the city’s oldest theatre. The theatre has been celebrating Juneteenth all month long, including an artist expo and a screening of the documentary Ferguson Rises. Juneteenth weekend events include a screening of The Joy Protocol, an artistic collaboration between composer Richard Howell and choreographer Gregory Dawson that will be performed at 8 pm from Thursday, June 16, through Saturday, June 18. On Sunday, head to SF’s Gilman Park to join Black Wall Street’s Juneteenth Celebration from 11 am to 5 pm, or catch the 20th anniversary screening of Straight Outta Hunters Point on Ruth Williams Indoor Stage at BVOH.

East County Juneteenth Let Freedom Ring Celebration

Sunday, June 19
Brentwood City Park, Brentwood
Celebrate Antioch Foundation brings a day of speakers and vendors to the City of Brentwood. Hosted by gospel radio personality Steven Parker, celebrants can enjoy a salute to Black fathers, plus performances from Harley Griffin’s Luther Vandross Tribute band, Frankie Beverly tribute artist Lionel J, and Barry White tribute musician Kenny “King” Smith, as well as gospel recording artist N’Season. Bring the family for fun, food, and music from 12–5 pm.

Vallejo Juneteenth
Vallejo Juneteenth
Vallejo Juneteenth

Vallejo Juneteenth

Saturday, June 18
Martin Luther King Jr Park / Marina Vista Memorial Park, Vallejo
This year will mark the 32nd annual Juneteenth celebrations for Bay Area rapper E-40’s hometown of Vallejo. Expect performances from R&B artists Project 4 Band and blues guitarist Alvon Johnson, as well as 75-100 exhibitors selling merchandise and food. Join the community for health and wellness assessments; education, employment and training opportunities; financial planning; and activities for kids. Celebrations run from 11 am to 4 pm.

Freedom Celebration

Saturday, June 18
Fillmore District, San Francisco
Spearheaded by the Juneteenth SF Freedom Organization, there’s a little something for everyone at this free Juneteenth celebration that includes games and rides; a classic car show; a hair and fashion show; live performances from Jaquees, Pleasure P, and more; and a Tastemakers District with food trucks and pop-ups from the Bay’s top chefs, including a beer and wine garden for the 21+ set. Attendees who register will be entered into raffles for sponsored gift certificates and other prizes. The festival is held in Fillmore from 11 am to 6 pm, celebrating the neighbourhood’s history as the “Harlem of the West” and a once-epicentre for Black culture, music, and entertainment.

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Brandy Collins is a contributor for Thrillist.

San Francisco

How to Celebrate Black History Month in San Francisco

Support and celebrate SF's Black community.

Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade

Though it’s something we need to be doing every day of every month of every year, Black History Month encourages us to pay tribute to the struggles and oppression generations of Black Americans have faced, as well as their often-neglected triumphs and achievements that have helped shape this county and make it better. It’s a time to reflect on how we can do better to confront racism and oppression, which this year’s theme, “Black Resistance,” echoes. This is especially important in a town like San Francisco, where the Fillmore District was known as “the Harlem of the West” before the city displaced a vast portion of the neighbourhood’s Black community in the ’60s and ’70s. This displacement continues today, as the Black population is the only racial group that has declined in every census since 1970.

If you’re looking for ways to celebrate Black History Month, there are lots to do. Whether you want to educate yourself by attending films, performances, or conversations, share the joy at a parade or dance party, or do a little bit of it all at a drag show, here are just a few ways you can get involved and have a lot of fun while doing so:

Visit San Francisco Public Library branches for workshops, films, performances, and more

February (and throughout the year)
Library branches and online
SFPL’s “More Than a Month” celebration focuses on the theme of resistance this year. Family-friendly and adult events include film screenings, musical performances, book clubs, workshops, and more.
Cost: Free

Museum of African Diaspora
Museum of African Diaspora
Museum of African Diaspora

See art, poetry, films, talks, and more at MoAD

February (and throughout the year)
SoMa
Right now, at the Museum of African Diaspora, you can see the first and only West Coast exhibition of “The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion,” which highlights the work of 15 contemporary fashion designers “whose images present radically new perspectives on the medium of photography and art, race and beauty, and gender and power.” The museum, which has a robust year-round program and event calendar, has a slew of events to attend, including youth poetry readings, film screenings, open mic nights, book clubs, artist talks, and more.
Cost: Event prices vary; GA to visit the museum is $12 but free every second Saturday of the month

Check out films, art, reading, talks, and more at BAMPFA

February (and throughout the year)
Berkeley
There is always something interesting to discover at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). During Black History Month, you can see films by Pratibha Parmar, “Felwine Sarr: Music, Freedom, Africa,” a conversation through music with the Senegalese writer, scholar, composer, musician, and more.
Cost: Varies

Old Skool Cafe
Old Skool Cafe
Old Skool Cafe

Enjoy menu specials honoring Black community members at Old Skool Cafe

February (and throughout the year)
Bayview
For Black History Month, Old Skool Cafe is adding the favourite meals of notable Black community members to the menu each weekend. The nonprofit, youth-run supper club helps at-risk, formerly incarcerated, and foster care youth ages 16-22 gain the skills and experience they need to succeed in various front and back-of-house restaurant roles. Bayview hero/community advocate Mrs. Dorris Vincent is first up, followed by Judge Trina Thompson, Delroy Lindo, and Mayor London Breed.

Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens

Walk beneath the Marting Luther King, Jr. Memorial waterfall

February (and ongoing)
Yerba Buena Gardens
Did you know that Yerba Buena Gardens is home to the country’s second-largest memorial to Dr. King? Visit the sculptural waterfall featuring glass panels inscribed with his inspiring words at 750 Howard Street.
Cost: Free

Attend the Commonwealth’s “Dreaming Forward: A Celebration of Black Joy, Power, and Excellence” conference

Thursday, February 9
Embarcadero
On behalf of Dr. Sheryl Evans Davis and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, the Commonwealth Club is hosting its second annual Dream Keeper Initiative, a day-long conference/celebration/call-to-action featuring special guests, including April Ryan of TheGrio and CNN.
Cost: Free

Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays
Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays
Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays

Celebrate Black Love at Oakland First Fridays

Friday, February 10
Telegraph Avenue from West Grand to 27th Street
Telegraph Avenue transforms into a dining, shopping, and art-appreciating party on Friday, February 10, from 5 pm to 9 pm. There will be food, artist, and retail vendors and a host of Black artists, authors, and entertainment. Please note: This event was rescheduled from February 3 because of potential rain.
Cost: Free

Have a ball at an all-Black drag show at Oasis

Friday, February 10
SoMa
“Reparations with Latrice Royale” is an all-Black drag show hosted by Latrice Royale, the beloved Drag Race star who also happens to be celebrating her birthday.
Cost: $15 to $60

Dance all night and shop all day at the Afro Soca Love carnival and marketplace

Friday, February 10 – Saturday, February 11
341 13th Street, Oakland
Afro Soca Love creates experiences that act as a “gateway to building bonds and strengthen relationships-between communities, individuals, and Africa and its diaspora.” See for yourself at the all-ages marketplace (Saturday), where you’ll find food and drink, fashion, beauty and wellness, home decor, and more. But before the shopping comes the dancing at the 21+ Friday Night Carnival, a culturally immersive music experience with music from all over the world.
Cost: The marketplace is free; tickets to the Friday Night Carnival start at $20

See a live performance of “Words That Made the Difference: Brown vs. the Board of Education”

Saturday, February 11
Unity Palo Alto
See a live theatrical performance based on the true events that occurred in the fight to end school segregation. The script draws from trial transcripts of the five cases brought together in front of the Supreme Court and Chief Justice Earl Warren’s memoirs, and the play is set in the courtrooms where it all happened. There will be a Q&A with the playwright before the performance and the cast afterward.
Cost: Free

Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company
Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company
Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company

Go to the I, Too, Sing America album release party

Saturday, February 11
Mission
Head to the Brava Theater Center to celebrate the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company’s album release of the music created for I, Too, Sing America, a soulful and uplifting performance that moved audiences when it debuted last year. The night includes an album-listening and sing-along party, DJs, dancing, an open bar, and more.
Cost: $40

Go on the Black Liberation Walking Tour of West Oakland

Saturday, February 18
West Oakland
Take a walk with David Peters, founder of the West Oakland Cultural Action Network, and Gene Anderson, the author of Legendary Locals of Oakland, to learn about resident voices and document sites of cultural and historical significance in the neighbourhood. Peters is a local native, and Anderson is an Oakland historian whose family has historical roots in West Oakland.
Cost: $50 ($30 for West Oakland residents)

See a screening of The Black Kung Fu Experience followed by in-person demonstrations

Sunday, February 19
Great Star Theater, Chinatown
The Chinese Historical Society of America is celebrating Black History Month and social unity with a screening of this film about how a group of African American pioneers became respected in a subculture dominated by Chinese and white men. Afterward, there will be demonstrations and talks with Sifu Donald Hamby and Sifu Troy Dunwood, who “will speak about their success as internationally recognized martial arts masters, their Chinese Kung Fu teachers, and what this practice means in relation to diversity, race and inclusion issues.”
Cost: $15

Sip wine made by Black winemakers at a free tasting event at STEM Kitchen + Garden

Thursday, February 23
Dogpatch
STEM Kitchen + Garden is hosting an afternoon wine tasting celebrating Black-owned wineries in its gorgeous indoor/outdoor space, and best of all, and it’s free to the public!
Cost: Free

Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House

Attend the San Francisco African American Arts & Cultural District Gala Fundraiser

Saturday, February 25
Bayview Opera House
Enjoy an evening of talent, fashion, and community inspiration at SFAAACD’s 1st Annual Gala Fundraiser. Carla Duke, Television News Director at CBS-KPIX Chanel 5, will host the event, which includes inspiring words from keynote speaker Aniyia Williams, an artist, tech creator, and system-preneur.
Cost: $100

Attend a Black History Month & Chinese New Year Poetry Reading on Angel Island

Saturday, February 25
Angel Island
There is so much history in poetry at the Angel Island Detention Barracks Museum, which makes it a fitting location for poets Chun Yu and Michael Warr. The co-founders of Two Languages/One Community will share their poems and stories in English and Chinese, accompanied by projected images of text and photographs.
Cost: $10 to $21

Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade

Feel the joy at the Black Joy Parade

Sunday, February 26
Downtown Oakland
This parade and festival celebrate the “Black experience past, present, and future.” Be prepared to experience “more Black joy than you ever imagined,” starting with the parade (beginning at 14th and Franklin) at 12:30 pm. The family-friendly festival follows (main entrance is at 19th and Franklin) will include 200-plus Black-owned small businesses selling food, drinks, clothing, art, and more. There will also be two stages with Black performers, including The Black Joy Choir.
Cost: Free

Take a sound bath at Grace Cathedral in honor of Black History Month

Monday, February 27
Nob Hill
Take an immersive sound bath featuring Fractals of Sound, a collective of top Bay Area musicians Egemen Sanli, Phoenix Song, and Sam Jackson, with special guest Destiny Muhammad. Together, they will create a “soundscape deeply rooted in world music,” allowing you to take a meditative journey in one of the most beautiful places in San Francisco.
Cost: $25 to $75

See Tsitsi Dangarembga and Angela Davis at City Arts & Lectures

Tuesday, February 28
Civic Center
Co-presented with MoAd, City Arts & Lectures is hosting novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga and scholar and activist Angela Davis for what’s sure to be a riveting conversation.
Cost: $36

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Daisy Barringer is an SF-based freelance writer who spent many childhood days wandering around the Exploratorium. Follow her on Instagram to see what she’s up to now.

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