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Artist depiction of June 19,1865

About Juneteenth

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally-honored celebration of the ending of slavery in the United States. June 19, 1865 marks the day that Union soldiers landed in Texas with news that the Civil War had ended and that enslaved people were officially free, more than two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. "To mark the anniversary of their liberation and honor the two additional years of slave labor endured by enslaved people in Texas, our ancestors celebrated Juneteenth, also called Freedom Day and Emancipation Day" explains the Black Heritage Juneteenth Festival Committee on their website. 

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The Juneteenth flag was raised in 2021

2021 Black Heritage Juneteenth Festival

A supremely unique celebration of cultures of the African Diaspora, the 2021 festival was held virtually and in-person on June 12. Attendees experienced dynamic live-streamed dance, poetry and musical performances online, featuring talent like World Premier Band, In Da Zone, Christon Carney and Serenity Jackson. And just before the virtual celebrations began, an official raising of the Juneteenth flag took place at City Hall in Worcester, MA, at which a brief ceremony observed this monumental moment in history. 

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Prior Black Heritage Juneteenth Festival at Institute Park

Worcester’s Commitment to Commemorate

Worcester began celebrating Black history and culture with festivals starting in 1997. The Black Heritage Festival celebrates the past with consciousness to inspire the future, planned and implemented annually through the efforts of a volunteer committee and locals, electing to act in accordance with the axiom: “None of us are free until we are ALL free.” 

This event is a celebration that takes place with the support of individuals, community businesses and organizations. The Black Heritage Committee and the community look forward to a return to Institute Park in 2022. 

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2019 Black Heritage Juneteenth Festival

Connect to Black Culture

The Village

On Saturdays this summer, you can also shop and eat with vendors in-person at The Village, Worcester’s new Afrocentric cultural, learning and healing center. The Village is located at 4 King Street in downtown Worcester. OurStory Edutainment is the lead organization in The Village, and they welcome community support to ensure they have the best foundation for the new cultural center.

WCLOC Theater Company presents The Niceties 

With only 4 performances this weekend, June 18-19 at 8:00 pm and June 19-20 at 2:00 pm, in Downtown Worcester at BrickBox Theater, Worcester County Light Opera Company will be producing Eleanor Burgess' The Niceties in partnership with the Worcester Black History Project and the Worcester Historical Museum. Zoe, a black student at a liberal arts college, is called into her white professor's office to discuss her paper about slavery's effect on the American Revolution. What begins as a polite clash in perspectives explodes into an urgent debate about race, history, and power. 

Jazz in the Park: Celebrating Great African-American Composers

On July 18, 2021 at 7 P.M. in Institute Park The Massachusetts Symphony presents this free summer concert as part of the Orchestra's milestone 70th year of admission-free Institute Park performances. Jazz in the Park: Celebrating Great African-American composers will be led by Conductor Jorge Soto and will feature classic jazz selections including Handy's St. Louis Blues; Duke Ellington's Caravan, Take the A Train, and Satin Doll; Count Basie's One O'Clock Jump; Mercer Ellington's Things Ain't What they Used to be; Miles Davis' Vierd Blues and All Blues, Sonny Rollins' St. Thomas; Ray Charles' Mary Ann and What I'd Say; John Coltrane's Mr. P.C. and Impressions; Herbie Hancock's Watermelon Man, and Louis Armstrong's When the Saints Go Marching In.

Crocodile River Music

Crocodile River Music brings African music, art, and dance to New England and beyond. They proudly serve various schools and perform in some of the most prestigious venues in and around New England through concerts, workshops, lectures, and other educational programs. The team is comprised of a diverse group of people who have traveled all over the world sharing the cultures of Africa on a global scale. Their goal is to promote and perform African and African-influenced music that informs, connects, and inspires.

Dine Black-Owned

Worcester is home to over a dozen Black-owned restaurants offering an eclectic and delicious variety of food and drinks. From Ghanaian staples to Jamaican gems, healthy vegan treats to indulgent soul food classics - you're bound to find a new favorite on this short-list of local Black-owned eateries.

Shop Black-Owned

Discover these local, Black-owned fashion businesses offering original clothing, apparel and accessories in stores and online.