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5 Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth 2023 in Downtown Atlanta

June 15, 2023

Next Monday marks the third year of Juneteenth’s recognition as a national holiday, but Atlantans are no strangers to this special day. This weekend, annual events return to Downtown Atlanta, and new ones—including a community movie night—kick off, giving residents and visitors several options of how they’d like to observe this important day in our country’s history.

Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of Black Americans and the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19th, 1865, the Union Army entered Galveston, Texas, and announced to Black residents, who were previously unaware, that the Emancipation Proclamation was passed over two years earlier by President Lincoln. Residents of Galveston begin celebrating the end of slavery as “Juneteenth” every year, and the holiday soon spread across the United States.

Red is the color popularly associated with Juneteenth, and foods like red velvet cake and red soda or lemonade are often made for the occasion. This association with the color is said to be tied to the Yoruba and Kongo people of West Africa who were enslaved and brought to the United States. Their descendants continued their reverence for red as a symbol of transformation and spiritual power.

Keep scrolling to learn how you can celebrate Freedom Day with these inspiring and educational events in Downtown Atlanta:

  • Juneteenth Atlanta Parade & Music Festival Centennial Olympic Park, June 16-18 – Returning for its 11th year, this high-spirited celebration of freedom, unity, and equality is known for filling Centennial Olympic Park and the streets of Atlanta with the soulful sound of live music, amazing hand-made merchandise from local and international vendors, mouthwatering cuisine, and an array of immersive cultural activities for all attendees. Learn more
  • Juneteenth 5K Freedom Run Centennial Olympic Park, June 17 – Run, walk, or roll in honor of those who have fought and those who are fighting for freedom, human rights, social justice, and world peace. The run kicks off at 9:00 a.m. and goes around the park. All participants receive a race shirt and a custom die-cast finishing medal. Register here.
  • Jubilee: A Celebration National Center for Civil and Human Rights, June 17-18 – Explore the history of Juneteenth and the new traditions being created in honor of this joyous occasion. Stop by the Center to enjoy music inspired by the holiday, immerse yourself in the culture of Juneteenth through performances, and find a new piece of your tradition. Get the details.
  • Piedmont Summer Movie Series: The Wiz Home Depot Backyard, June 17 – This free film series kicks off with a live DJ, vendor village, giveaways, raffles, and activities the entire family can enjoy. At 9:00 p.m., attendees will be treated to a screening of the 1978 musical The Wiz starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor, and more. Learn more.
  • Oakland Cemetery’s Juneteenth Celebration Oakland Cemetery, June 17 – Live music, food, storytelling for children, and free tours are featured in this community event that sets the tone for future Juneteenth celebrations in the Grant Park neighborhood. Get the details