NW Philadelphia celebrates ‘second Independence Day’

Posted 6/12/24

Throughout Northwest Philadelphia, people of all ages and demographics will come together to celebrate Juneteenth this weekend.

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NW Philadelphia celebrates ‘second Independence Day’


Throughout Northwest Philadelphia, people of all ages and demographics will come together to celebrate Juneteenth this weekend.

Officially observed on June 19th, Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. It marks the day in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced that all enslaved people were free, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

For generations, Black Americans have recognized Juneteenth as the day they learned they were free. It’s a celebration of joy - parades, street festivals, musical performances, cookouts and more – all symbols of what has been dubbed by some this nation’s “second Independence Day.” 

For the people of Northwest Philadelphia, Juneteenth holds significant importance. The area has a rich history, with many residents tracing their roots back to the era of enslavement. It is a reminder that, despite a history of oppression and adversity, our local Black community has thrived –  and continues to shape the identity of the city as a whole. 

The holiday also serves as a time for reflection, education, and community gatherings, with local organizations hosting events that showcase African American culture, art, and history. Here are a few:

Center in the Park celebrates the holiday with a Freedom Day celebration with raffles, crafts and giveaways with breakfast served from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. and the event starting at 10 a.m., Fri., June 14. Center in the Park is at 5818 Germantown Ave. Free.

Historic Germantown and Johnson House Historic Site host the 18th Annual Juneteenth Festival from noon to 7 p.m., Sat., June, 15, with an event that includes music, historical reenactments, community conversations, food trucks and a cultural marketplace. The celebration at Johnson House is at 6306 Germantown Ave. Free.

Weavers Way officially opens its new market in Germantown with food, kids activities, raffles and giveaways from noon to 4 p.m., Sat., June 15, when the co-op will spotlight local Black-owned businesses. The celebration continues from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sun., June 16,. The co-op is at 328 W. Chelten Ave.

Woodmere Art Museum observes the holiday with lots for families to do, including storytelling, art-making, and a concert by TAHIRA, award-winning storyteller, poet, vocalist and musician, 2 to 4 p.m., Sat., June 15. Free, but registration is required. Later, Elle Gyandoh & the John Doe Band will perform an evening of soul stirring music, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tickets, are $25 ($15 for members). The concert will be outdoors, weather permitting. Woodmere is at 9201 Germantown Ave., Chestnut Hill. For info, visit woodmereartmuseum.org.

Cliveden of the National Trust presents its first-person tours featuring actors portraying James Smith, Henry Banning Chew and Mary Bowman, who are historic figures in Cliveden’s history. The tour on Sat., June 15, will feature the story of James Smith, a free Black man who worked as a coachman at Cliveden in the mid-19th century. The tours, part of Germantown’s Juneteenth Festival, will be noon, 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., $20. Cliveden is at 6401 Germantown Ave.

Germantown Cricket Club’s Power of Champions get-together celebrates with food, live music, a youth tennis clinic, an adult round robin and more. 4 to 8 p.m., Monday, June 17. 411 Manheim St., Germantown.

Awbury Arboretum hosts a evening of Black culture with jazz, a dinner, and a Q&A with Germantown Infohub’s Rasheed Ajamu and speakers Gwen Ragsdale, of the Lest We Forget Slavery Museum, journalist Cassie Owens and Juneteenth Festival founder Cornelia Swinson. $55. 5 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, June 19. Francis Cope House, 1 Awbury Rd., Germantown. For info, awbury.org.

NoName Gallery hosts a Juneteenth-themed happy hour, 5 to 7 p.m., June 19. For info, visit nonamegalleryphilly.com. 8127 Germantown Ave., Chestnut Hill

Germantown Historical Society's ongoing photo exhibit features the work of Tieshka Smith which chronicles the history of Juneteenth. Exhibit open noon to 4 p.m., Thu, Fri, Sat. Free. The Society is at 5501 Germantown Ave.

Wissahickon Valley Library’s Ambler Branch hosts a Juneteenth Storytime with craft making, singalongs and stories, 11:30 a.m. Sat. June 21. Free. To register, visit Eventbrite.com. The library is at 209 Race St., Ambler.