Juneteenth 2021 Guide for Chicago Families

There are many ways to learn and celebrate Freedom Day on June 19 with your kids.

The Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, but it took two and half years to ensure that all enslaved people in America were freed. Texas remained the last state to not put the executive order in effect until federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865.

Now, 156 years later, Juneteenth is one of the oldest holidays celebrating the abolition of slavery. Juneteenth has long been celebrated all over the country and this year, it’s considered an official  state holiday in Illinois.

There are many ways to learn and celebrate the holiday with your family in 2021. We’ve rounded up some Juneteenth family activities including events, crafts, books to read and more.

Events

Across the Chicago area, there are many local organizations and businesses throwing Juneteenth events for families. We shared a few Juneteenth events and find the latest events added to our calendar.

Children’s Story Trail and Craft: Juneteenth

June 18-20, 2021

Walk a short trail near the museum while you enjoy reading a posted story celebrating the history of the Juneteenth holiday. Afterwards, stop by the museum to pick up a craft and activities bag to continue the adventure. All participants are required to wear masks and practice physical distancing.

Black Culture Week Juneteenth Caravan & Festival

June 18-19, 2021

Beginning on Chicago’s West Side, the City Wide Juneteenth Caravan will pass through historic neighborhoods and sites on its way to the South Side’s A. Phillip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum. View the caravan’s activities on a live stream from the organization’s website. The caravan ends with a two-day recognition ceremony and spoken word concert.

Roll N Peace: Juneteenth Celebration

June 19, 2021

Families can hop on their bikes for a cycling celebration of unity. Roll N Peace is organized by Think Outside da Block, which works to reduce crime in Englewood through youth education and events.

Skokie Juneteenth

June 19, 2021

  • Where: Various Locations, Skokie
  • Cost: Free parade, fees for food and some activities; reservations required

After the Juneteenth Parade in Evanston, join chefs and performers at Devonshire for cooking demonstrations, bites and children’s activities. The party moves to Sketchbook Brewing for a special Juneteenth brew as well as more food and live performances.

Books

Juneteenth is an important holiday to discuss as a family as we continue to raise anti-racist kids. Here are some Juneteenth books below to add to your family home library.

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson

  • Best for ages: 5-9

All Different Now tells the story of the first Juneteenth celebration with beautiful illustrations and through a perspective of a young girl.

Juneteenth for Mazie, by Floyd Cooper

  • Best for ages: 6-9

Mazie is celebrating Freedom Day and while she’s tried hearing “no” from her father, he explains to her how her great-great-grandpa Mose heard no even more until he was finally free from slavery.

Juneteenth, by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and Drew Nelson

  • Best for ages: 7-10

Why was June 19, 1865 such a significant day for enslaved people in Texas? This picture book explains the significance of the Texas event and how it became a holiday celebrated nationally.

Juneteeth Jamboree, by Carole Boston Weatherford

  • Best for ages: 8-12

Cassie joins her family to a Juneteenth celebration in their community. There, she learns more about the Texas tradition and why it took so long for enslaved people in the state to hear the news of the Emancipation Proclamation.

More Activities

While there are plenty of events and books to take in, there are even more ways to celebrate Black culture and history at local institutions on Juneteenth and beyond.

Bisa Butler: Portraits

Through Sept. 6, 2021

Take in cultural and historical narratives of Black life through Bisa Butler’s gorgeous quilts. The exhibit features more than 20 portraits and it’s the first solo museum exhibition for the artist.

Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition

Through July 5, 2021

Explore more than 100 dynamic works by African-American artists from around the nation in the longest-running exhibition of African-American art in the United States. Plus, June 19 is Black Creativity Family Day, which also includes free admission for families (while tickets last). 

The March

Reopens June 19, 2021

The DuSable Museum of African American plans to reopen on Juneteenth with a celebration for the holiday and the museum’s 60th anniversary. While you’re visiting, reserve time to view The March, which offers a virtual reality experience of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Black-Owned Businesses for Chicago Families

Chicago is filled with some amazing Black-owned businesses including clothing stores, restaurants and more. Also, South Loop store, Kido, is selling Juneteenth onsies and tees that look amazing!

All One Tribe

Dropping on Juneteenth, this album will feature 24 Black family musicians including Chicagoland-based musician, Nanny Nikki.


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