Annual Juneteenth celebrations planned across Tampa Bay

Juneteenth is usually accompanied by a day of events in the Bay Area. This year, some events will still take place in person, however, many have also been made virtual, giving people the option to participate, but at home due to COVID-19.

This year marks 155 years since the first Juneteenth. It’s the day that slaves in the last un-empancipated state of Texas found out in 1865 that they were freed even though the Emancipation Proclamation had  ended slavery over two years earlier. 

Juneteenth is a holiday that most states recognize and honor. However, in light of recent events, the push to make Juneteenth a national holiday is stronger than ever before.

In the Bay Area, Juneteenth is celebrated annually and this year is no exception.  

Here’s a list of events happening in our area:

A peaceful protest and march will be held in downtown Saint Petersburg at Williams Park on Friday from 2 to 7 p.m. The march will be complete with speakers and food, and it is free to the public as people are invited to attend to remember George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

The Alpha Pi Alpha fraternity will hold a peaceful march on Friday at 4 p.m. for “Peace-Justice-Reform” at Joe Chillura Courtyard Square. They will end the night with a rally at Gaslight Square. 

A BLM Business Expo will be held from noon to 7 p.m. on Friday at Expo Hall in St. Petersburg. The Juneteenth event will celebrate and support black-owned businesses and feature up to 100 vendor booths, food and a wig sale.

The Tampa Bay Juneteenth Coalition Will host a free cookout on Saturday from 11 AM to 3:30 PM at Kings Forest Park. The event will have more than 25 vendors, music and raffles. Those in attendance are asked to bring a mask.

The Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum will host a virtual celebration, along with the unveiling of the latest mural in St. Pete designed to honor the Black Lives Matter movement. The event will take place from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Friday, and it can be watched on the museum’s Facebook page.

Children can also learn about Juneteenth through Children’s Day at the Museum. Those in attendance will hear about the history of Juneteenth and the emancipation proclamation through activities, book readings and video discussions. Those who wish to attend will need to search for “Children’s Day at the Museum” on Eventbrite to get your free ticket. The event starts at 10 a.m. on Friday.

In honor of Juneteenth, storytellers will be sharing fiction and nonfiction stories from 2-3 p.m. Friday with the themes of hope, freedom, family and community. The public is invited to share their own work, but it must be five minutes or less. The event is free, but if you would like to share your work, you will need to register on Eventbrite. Search “Juneteenth Storytelling Open Mic.”  

The Miss Tampa Bay Juneteenth Coalition Pageant will also be hosted virtually. At 6 o’clock on Friday, middle school and high school students will compete in various categories under the theme “20/20: Our Future is Clear.” The contestants will be judged on talent, community achievement interviews and eveningwear. The public can watch the event on the Tampa Bay Juneteenth Coalition’s Facebook page.