New York English Academy Rookie blog

In June of 2021, President Joe Biden signed legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. However, Juneteenth’s history goes back over 150 years. 

The History of Juneteenth

Also called Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of African Americans who were enslaved by the United States. Although the emancipation proclamation was signed almost two and a half years earlier, the news of this important decision didn’t reach Texas until June 19th, 1865. Now, Juneteenth is celebrated annually on June 19th and has become a time for celebration. National interest in Juneteenth grew in 2020, as the Black Lives Matter movement led protests across the country in response to police violence against black Americans. 

In the early days of Juneteenth celebrations, black families would travel to Galveston, Texas as an annual pilgrimage. In 1865, the Union general arrived in Galveston to announce the conclusion of the Civil War and freedom of all slaves. Today, some families celebrate by hosting gatherings and preparing food, but larger cities such as Atlanta and Washington hold large events such as parades and festivals. Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth a holiday in 1980. The House of Representatives passed a bill to make Juneteenth a nationwide holiday and it was signed into a law on June 17, 2021.  

Celebrating Juneteenth in NYC

Juneteenth is a joyous holiday and there will be many exciting events in NYC from June 16th through June 19th. These events also give attendees great opportunities to learn about black history and culture. Here are some events that are free to attend:

  1. The Lincoln Center will host two events for Juneteenth on June 18th. “To a Garden Luxuriously Verdant (Enameled with Countless Flowerings)” begins at 7pm with a multi-genre, full campus Juneteenth celebration. Their Juneteenth dance party begins at 9pm and is a silent disco of reimagined gospel music by DJ Rimarkable.
  2. Juneteenth at Seneca Village begins at 10am on Saturday, June 17th offers an opportunity to not only consider the origins and meaning of this day, but to reflect on Seneca Village, a predominately African-American community that existed before New York City created Central Park and long before we celebrated Juneteenth. This event is family friendly and activities include crafts, dance and yoga. 
  3. The Juneteenth Food Festival takes place at the Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn on June 17th and 18th and is hosted by Black-Owned Brooklyn. Dine around from 29 Black food vendors offering African American fare traditional to the holiday, as well as flavors from regions of Africa and the Caribbean.
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It’s officially summer in NYC! Let’s look at some ways to enjoy the sunny weather while exploring the city.

National Donut Day

Even though National Donut Day was June 2nd, it’s never too late to celebrate.  Perfect with a cup of coffee, donuts in New York can range from a classic glazed from a street vendor to experimental pastries from unique bakeries. If you love a sweet treat, check out this list of recommended NYC donut shops:

Play a Game of Pickleball

Pickleball is a great summer game. The rules are simple and it can be played by all age groups, making it a fun friend or family activity. Combining elements of badminton, tennis, and ping pong, pickleball can be played indoors and outdoors on a tennis net. It’s played with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes. 14 new pickleball courts just opened in Central Park, so if you’re interested in picking up a new sport you can learn more on the official USA Pickleball website:

Visit the Astoria Carnival

The Astoria Carnival is returning this upcoming weekend! From June 7th to June 11th, Astoria Park parking lot will be home to an exciting carnival. Attendees can ride roller coasters, play games for prizes and enjoy indulgent fair foods, like funnel cake and fried Oreos. The festivities begin at 4pm and end around midnight so there’s plenty of time to check it out!

Pride March

June is Pride Month in the United States. In memory of the Stonewall riots of 1969, Pride Month is dedicated to celebration and commemoration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender pride. The Stonewall riots were a series of gay liberation protests that started here, in New York’s West Village neighborhood. The March, often called the Pride Parade, will begin at noon on Sunday, June 25th from 25th Street and 5th Avenue. Pride is for LGBTQ+ persons and allies alike so have fun, express yourself, and remember to treat everyone with respect!

Picnic in Central Park

Central Park is one of New York’s most iconic locations. One way to enjoy it this summer is to organize a picnic! Whether you prefer a grassy meadow or some shade near water, Central Park has a wide variety of picnic locations. You can find some suggestions at the link below, as well as suggestions for picnic foods for sale in the area:

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