Celebrate Juneteenth in San Francisco This Year with Food, Music, and Much More

From an African marketplace to a two-day jazz fest and more, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Juneteenth this year.

Fam Bam Juneteenth Celebration
Fam Bam Juneteenth Celebration | Photo courtesy of Afrocentric Oakland
Fam Bam Juneteenth Celebration | Photo courtesy of Afrocentric Oakland

Most commonly known as Juneteenth, the day has also been called Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, and Liberation Day, and is the longest-running Black holiday celebrating the emancipation of Black people from enslavement. Two and half years after President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Emancipation Proclamation, 250,000 Black people were still enslaved in Texas, brought there by slaveholders who sought to evade the executive order. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger and 2,000 Union soldiers arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, to enforce the edict and grant a quarter-million captives their freedom.

Until recently, the holiday was celebrated primarily within Black communities across the country, spanning as far as Mexico. Civil unrest in 2020 brought a collective of communities together to demand accountability for the Black lives that were taken through police brutality, the prison industrial complex, and racial disparities impacting the Black community. Marking a momentous milestone in American history by openly acknowledging the enslavement of Black ancestors as well as the forced labor that built this country and cost millions of Black lives, the Senate voted Juneteenth as a federally recognized holiday in 2021.

San Francisco kicked off the Bay Area Juneteenth festivities by hosting its inaugural parade along Market Street. The Bay Area has a long-standing tradition of celebrating Juneteenth in places like Oakland, San Jose, and Berkeley, while other communities are building their celebrations for the first or second time. From San Francisco to Marin County to Santa Clara and more, here are 15 ways to celebrate Juneteenth in the Bay Area, with music and food festivals, family-friendly activities, and more.

Friday, June 16–Saturday, June 17
Golden Gate Park Bandshell, San Francisco
Illuminate will host two days of Jazz in Golden Gate Park. On Friday, the happy hour celebration of jazz music begins at 4:30 pm in Golden Gate Park. On Saturday, Fillmore Jazz Ambassadors will bring its brand of musical celebration. Visitors can also experience artist Dana King’s Monumental Reckoning, a collection of 350 ancestral sculptures created while the installation is still available.

Saturday, June 17
Sofa District, San Jose
The African American Community Service Agency (AACSA) is coming in hot with its 42nd Annual Juneteenth celebration. With the support of San Jose’s Office of Racial Equity, Santa Clara University and Santa Clara County Black Firefighters Association, Juneteenth festivities have averaged over 3,500 attendees. From 12 pm to 7: pm, celebrants can expect a “Homecoming” theme beginning with a monumental performance from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) 100 marching band. Comedian Kim Whitley will be the emcee, with featured performances from R&B singer K. Michelle and gospel singer Lena Byrd Miles. The event is free and family-friendly.

Saturday, June 17
Fillmore District, San Francisco
The festival, spearheaded by the Juneteenth SF Freedom Organization, will be held in the Fillmore District, or “Harlem of the West,” a once-epicenter for Black culture, music, and entertainment. From 11 am to 6 pm, the annual free Juneteenth celebration will span eight city blocks and include games and rides; a classic car show; a hair and fashion show; live performances from Marsha Ambrosius, Ray J, and many more; and a Tastemakers District with food trucks and pop-ups from the Bay’s top chefs, including a beer and wine garden for the 21+ set. Attendees who register will be entered into raffles for sponsored gift certificates and other prizes.

Fam Bam Juneteenth Celebration | Photo courtesy of Afrocentric Oakland

Saturday, June 17
Lake Merritt Amphitheater, Oakland
Fam Bam Juneteenth Celebration returns to Lake Merritt’s Amphitheatre with festivities, including a keynote speech from community advocate and congressional candidate Lateefah Simon, six DJs with all the favorite jams, spoken word performances, a youth zone, food vendors, and a performance from Vallejo’s very own artist LaRussell. This celebration promises to support family, wellness, community, culture, and love.

Saturday, June 17
Museum of African Diaspora, San Francisco
From 11 am to 6 pm, San Francisco’s Museum of African Diaspora will offer free entry to all visitors. Entry includes complimentary access to the current exhibit, Black Venus. The museum is also offering Family Art Activity and a panel discussion with author Dorothy Lazard, with KQED’s Rightnowish podcast host and journalist Pendarvis Harshaw. The day will close out with a performance from Curtis Family C-Notes.

Saturday, June 17
Parade begins at Booker T. Anderson Community Center and ends at Nicholl Park, Richmond
Richmond Juneteenth parade to take to the streets at 10 am at Booker T. Anderson Community Center. To keep the event family-friendly, organizers ask visitors to refrain from campaigning, drinking, and smoking during the parade this year. The festival begins at Nicholl Park at 11:30 am and ends at 6 pm.

Hip Hop for Change
Photo courtesy of Hip Hop for Change

Saturday, June 17
Mill Valley Downtown Plaza, Mill Valley
The City of Mill Valley, in coordination with Hip Hop for Change, will host its Juneteenth celebration on Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm. The free celebration will have performances from Oakland Originalz Dance Crew as well as a graffiti workshop, live music, and DJs from around the Bay Area.

Saturday, June 17
Barbara Kondylis Waterfront Green, Vallejo
This year’s annual Juneteenth celebrations are supported by the Solano County African Family Reunion Celebration Committee. The parade will begin at 9 am and run until 10:30 am, making the 1-mile trek to Vallejo’s Waterfront, where vendors and entertainment will be there to greet visitors. Celebrations run from 11 am to 5 pm. Expect performances from R&B artists Project 4 Band, Bario Funk, and Farley Funk, and exhibitors selling merchandise and food.

Saturday, June 17–Sunday, June 18
Suisun Waterfront, Suisun City
Suisun City is celebrating its second Juneteenth Day. Hosted by Suisun City Youth Commission and Tri-City NAACP, the organizations have set their mission toward promoting the economic and social advancement of Suisun City’s Black community. Anyone seeking to provide sponsor support, become a vendor, or volunteer is encouraged to email ChairmanSCYC@gmail.com.

Saturday, June 17–Sunday, June 18
Grace Bible Fellowship Church and Williamson Ranch Park
Celebrate with the City of Antioch at Grace Bible Fellowship Church with vendors, live music, and activities for children. On Sunday, join from 12 pm to 5 pm for more family-friendly fun with rides, live entertainment, and food vendors.

Bayview Opera House
Photo courtesy of Bayview Opera House

Continuing through Sunday, June 18
Bayview Opera House and Gilman Park, San Francisco
The neighborhood Bayview-Hunters Point is home to the largest Black community in San Francisco, and its historic Bayview Opera House, which was built in 1888 and is the city’s oldest theater in San Francisco, has been celebrating Juneteenth since June 12th with panels and presentations on women’s empowerment, networking, and hip-hop education. But the best is yet to come with a nighttime concert featuring San Francisco rappers San Quinn and Rappin 4Tay. Check the link for more information.

Sunday, June 18
Main Street Park, Napa Valley
American Canyon Juneteenth returns for its second “Freedom Fest” in partnership with American Canyon Arts Foundation and the American Canyon Tourism Improvement District. The free event will feature a keynote speech from Dr. Lawrence VanHook, President of Peralta College’s Peralta Association of African American Affairs. Food trucks and vendors will be on hand, as well as live performances from Grammy-nominated singer Tony Lindsey, West Coast Caravan of All Stars, One Church Singers, and many others. In addition, there will be Father’s Day raffles and a kid zone from 2 pm to 4 pm. Limited reserved seating is available for $30 per person by emailing info@amcanart.org or calling 707-319-4773.

Sunday, June 18
Adeline St and Alcatraz Ave, Berkeley
Berkeley’s Juneteenth festival remains the longest-running Juneteenth event in Northern California. Held in South Berkeley’s Alcatraz-Adeline Corridor, the free and public festival included a week of programming that began June 11, from art exhibits to community clean-up events. Sunday’s closing event will be themed “Remembering” and feature jazz, blues, and zydeco musical performances.

Monday, June 19
Rocky Graham Park, Marin County
Marin City’s theme for its seventh year is “Ascension." This year's event begins at 9 am with a free prayer breakfast. A ceremonial drumming circle and singing of the Black National Anthem will begin at 10:30. Local vendors and small businesses will be available at 11 am. Parents can take advantage of the supervised child- care available in a designated area to stroll through the African Marketplace to support small local businesses selling skin, haircare, and art. Registration is required for the prayer breakfast.

Saturday, June 24
3233 Market Street, Oakland
B-H Brilliant Minds Project, Inc. has themed the festivities “Ain't No Stopping Us Now!” closing out Oakland’s Juneteenth festivities. Join in on some “Chicago- style” stepping. Enjoy a car show, some gospel music, or a fashion show. Visitors can also participate in financial literacy workshops or join a healing circle.

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Brandy Collins is a contributor for Thrillist.