Celebrating Juneteenth in Chesapeake Country

Marchers in the 2021 Juneteenth parade in Annapolis. Photo: City of Annapolis.

By Steve Adams and Michaila Shahan

Last year, Governor Larry Hogan and Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman announced that the state and county would recognize June 19 as a county and state holiday. Juneteenth marks the date in 1865 when a Union Army general announced to troops in Texas that slavery had been outlawed, well over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. It was also declared a federal holiday after President Joe Biden signed similar legislation.

This year’s commemorations are expected to be larger and more widespread across the region.

Annapolis hosted its first official Juneteenth celebration in Maryland last year. This year’s celebration includes a VIP gala honoring local and national trailblazers for their contributions to their community, followed by a parade and all-day music festival at the Bates Athletic Complex.

Building upon last year’s momentum, here are some of the activities and events to celebrate this year. Check Bay Planner for more events.

June 17, 5-10 p.m., Annapolis Juneteenth VIP Gala

Taking place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Annapolis, this year’s gala will again kick off the Juneteenth weekend with an evening that includes the awarding of several unsung heroes within the community, raffling prizes, cocktails and dinner, and dancing to music provided by The 4 The Road Band and DJ K-Rock. African attire is suggested, but not required, and tickets are $100.

Details: https://events.eventnoire.com/e/annapolis-juneteenth-gala.

June 18, noon-2 p.m., Annapolis Juneteenth Parade

In contrast to most parades in Annapolis, the Juneteenth Parade begins in downtown Annapolis at City Dock—a site that is not only home to the Alex Haley Memorial but has also been designated as a UNESCO Middle Passage Site of Remembrance, indicating the role of the Annapolis port as a destination for the trade of human cargo. The parade features civic organizations, marching bands, dance squads, and floats moving up Main Street to West Street before ending at Bates Athletic Complex, where there will be a closing ceremony highlighted by a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Visit the City of Annapolis website for information on the route, road closures, and parking: annapolis.gov/1927/Annapolis-Juneteenth-Celebration-2022.

June 18, 2-9 p.m., Annapolis Juneteenth Festival

Following the parade, there is a free festival with plenty of live music and entertainment on two main stages. Catch performances by Avery Sunshine, Koryn Hawthorne, Pastor Mike Jr., Beverly Crawford, and the Chuck Brown Band. Stroll through the diverse vendors and food stalls, visit the Freedom Way display; and, to close out the night, a fireworks show.

Details: theannapolisjuneteenth.org.

June 21, 7:30 p.m., Juneteenth: The Destruction of Slavery in the Civil War Virtual Lecture

Dr. Richard Bell, award-winning Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland and author of Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home, will deliver a Zoom presentation discussing how over the course of four years enslaved people pushed President Abraham Lincoln and his commanders toward embracing emancipation as a war aim and, ultimately, helped compel the federal government to abolish slavery on June 19, 1865. Learn more: annapolis.org/media-content/virtual-lecture-juneteenth

Calvert County/St. Mary’s County

June 18, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Talent Show

In Calvert County, you can celebrate Juneteenth at a talent show hosted by the Calvert branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Their annual Juneteenth celebration is at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in St. Leonard and also includes a classic car show, petting zoo, a tribute to veterans, food and merchandise vendors, and live entertainment (free). Details: calvertnaacp.org.

June 18, noon, Celebrating Freedom

About a thirty-minute drive south from Prince Frederick, the United Committee for Afro-American Contributions (UCAC) is kicking off a 6-hour free event with live music, spoken word, and entertainment at Lexington Manor Passive Park. The celebration will begin at noon, and will feature a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, a presentation of colors by the St. Mary’s County Sheriff Honor Guard, keynote speaker retired Col. Gregg Riley and a Gospel concert with the Southern Maryland Community Mass Choir, among others. Three heroes will be honored, including the founder of UCAC, the first African-American elected to the St. Mary’s County board of commissioners, and the first appointed African-American sheriff in Maryland. Details: ucaconline.org.

June 18-20, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Open House

UCAC will also be offering opportunities to tour the Drayden African-American Schoolhouse built in 1890. Explore the stories of struggle for the African American community in St. Mary’s County during an era of segregated education. Details: stmarysmd.com/recreate/Draydenschool.