Black Americans have long held joyous parades, backyard barbecues, fish fries, and church picnics with strawberry pop to mark Juneteenth, a contraction of “June 19th.” It commemorates the day in 1865 when Union Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to proclaim the end of slavery in the state. It was two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Widely considered to be African Americans’ independence day, Juneteenth has been celebrated since the 1800s but its popularity has waxed and waned. In recent years, and particularly following the police killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, there’s renewed and widened interest in celebrating what’s sometimes called Freedom Day or Emancipation Day.
This weekend, many Detroiters will enjoy barbecue, red velvet cake, and ruby drinks that originated in West Africa in their backyards, but some organizations will mark the day with food-filled public celebrations. Taste the Diaspora Detroit will have a watch party of High on the Hog. Shoebox dinners at the event include food from several Detroit Black chefs and restaurants. The city of Madison Heights will hold its first celebration with a rib-cooking competition and Detroit Black Farmer Land Fund is kicking off its annual fundraising campaign on Juneteenth at the Oakland Avenue Urban Farm. Below is a guide to where and what to eat at June 19 celebrations in Detroit and its suburbs.
Where to Go
- Taste the Diaspora Detroit, a collaborative of Black-owned restaurants, purveyors, and farmers, will host a viewing party of the new Netflix docuseries High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America. A limited number of shoebox meals from Detroit Black businesses will be available for purchase. Each shoebox will include a chicken curry or veggie wrap from Farmacy Food, a mini sweet potato pie from Sweet Potato Sensations, popcorn from Cynt-Sational Popcorn, and non-alcoholic ginger brew from Paradise Natural Foods. Doors open at 6 p.m. on June 19, with a watch party to begin at 7 p.m. and a moderated discussion to follow at Marygrove Conservancy in the Madame Cadillac Building.
- For Juneteenth and Pride Month, the cafe and market Folk Detroit is partnering with two Black- and queer-owned small businesses to offer a collaborative brunch box of vegetarian chana masala, local greens with lemon vin, vegan coconut cake with mango, and coffee. Boxes, which feed two people, are $60 and must be pre-ordered and picked up at Folk. A portion of the proceeds goes to Corktown Health Center.
- Detroit Black Farmer Land Fund is kicking off its annual fundraising campaign on Juneteenth at the Oakland Avenue Urban Farm. The day will feature food prepared by chefs Elle Simone Scott and Chef Q. Ibraheem and the Fried Chicken and Caviar pop-up. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 19. For more information, visit the event page.
- Culture in a Bowl Pop-Up: Spice things up with collard greens, jollof rice, vegan cornbread, and sweet plantains from this West African pop-up 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., June 18-20.
- Juneteenth Family Reunion: Take your own food to enjoy or money for food trucks. There will also Black vendors, live music, entertainment, and free giveaways at this family-friendly event hosted at Catalpa Oaks County Park in Southfield from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 19.
- Good Vibes Lounge, an East English Village bar, will hold a community celebration with cornhole and spades games, gifts for customers, and a photo booth that coincides with its one-year anniversary.
- Flood’s Bar & Grille in Detroit’s Greektown is holding an indoor-outdoor networking event for metro Detroit Black business owners on Friday, June 18. On Saturday, there’s a block-party celebration with DJs and a $1,000 cash giveaway for a business.
- Juneteenth Jubilee Stroll on the Historic Avenue of Fashion: More than 40 Black-owned businesses in the northwest Detroit district, including restaurants, will provide discounts, giveaways, or entertainment. The celebration kicks off at 11 a.m. with a street dedication to Marvin Gaye and then moves to Livernois Avenue for more festivities. The event runs from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. June 19. Tickets are available in advance.
- Juneteenth In The D: The festival includes food, play, listening, and learning in the area near Dabls Dabls MBAD African Bead Museum in Detroit from 12 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. June 19.
- Detroit Black Wall Street Juneteenth Celebration: Shop with local vendors and food vendors, and more at DLoft Lounge in Oak Park from 1:45 p.m. to 6 p.m. on June 19.
- Juneteenth Celebration — Give Back Edition: The event is centered on helping with community resources to move the community forward. Organizers will give away food boxes, baby formula, diapers, hygiene gifts, and more. Resources will include credit repair, mental health, and life insurance at 16065 Hamilton in Highland Park from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 19. Contact Hello@TheKristyLove.com or Tmhnonprofit@gmail.com.
- Juneteenth in Detroit Family Day: This 11th annual event will have food, music, games, Father’s Day tug of war, and Mr./Ms. Juneteenth from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on June 19 at Maheras Gentry Park (12550 Avondale, Detroit).
- Movie Night in the D Juneteenth Jubilee: Watch the film Concrete Cowboys, starring Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin at Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on June 18.
- Unity in the Community: a Juneteenth Celebration: This celebration of cultural diversity will feature performers and entertainers, and food trucks at Municipal Park, behind Lathrup Village City Hall (27400 Southfield), from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on June 19.