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Honoring Juneteenth in the Chicago Southland

By published May 30, 2024

Juneteenth, officially known as Juneteenth National Independence Day, is a United States federal holiday celebrated annually on June 19 in commemoration of the abolition of slavery in Texas in 1865. With early celebrations dating back to as early as 1866, every state and the District of Columbia formally recognized the holiday in some way by 1979. It was first recognized as a national holiday in 2021.

This year, several local Juneteenth celebrations can be found around the Chicago Southland area, serving as joyful opportunities for communities to unite and honor the resilience, strength and progress made towards equality.

On June 15, the villages of Homewood and Flossmoor will combine forces for their Juneteenth Festival. This event will serve as a celebration of African American culture as expressed through food, music, dance and the arts. Join the celebration from 11AM – 6:30PM at Homewood-Flossmoor High School (999 Kedzie Avenue, Flossmoor). Homewood and Flossmoor will continue the festivities on June 19, their Juneteenth Parade Day! Described as “the most exciting celebration our community has seen,” parade-goers, local and visitors alike, are invited to celebrate beginning at 9 AM. The parade will kick off at Homewood-Flossmoor High Schol.

Celebrate freedom, family and country at the Juneteenth Celebration at Sand Ridge Nature Center in South Holland on June 15! Various activities, presentations, performances and exhibits showcasing Black history, arts and culture will be part of the festivities from 10 AM – 2 PM.

The village of Robbins will host its annual Juneteenth Celebration on June 15, offering a variety of food vendors, community resources and local entertainment. This event also serves as the kickoff of the summer celebration of the Robbins Park District’s 45th anniversary! Join in on the fun at the Robbins Community Center (13800 South Trumball). Don’t forget, Robbins is also home to the Robbins Historical Society & Museum, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the important history of the people of Robbins, a town founded by formerly enslaved individuals and their descendants. The museum is open every Saturday, or any other day of the week by appointment. Please call 708-359-8701 for more information or to make your museum reservations.

Robbins Airport, 1931 (Courtesy of the Robbins Historical Society & Museum)

Richton Park has partnered with the village’s Human Relations Commission to host their annual Juneteenth Festival on June 15 from 3PM – 8PM in Glaeser Park (22053 Balmoral Drive). The event will include activities for kids, live music, food trucks, vendors and a beer garden.

The Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park, located on the Governors State University campus in University Park, will host a Juneteenth Summer Solstice celebration on June 20. Stroll through the stunning sculpture park, featuring 30+ monumental outdoor sculptures, while enjoying live music and a fun food truck experience. The celebration will take place from 4 PM – 8 PM.

Juneteenth Summer Solstice

On June 22, join the village of South Holland will wrap up this year’s festivities at Veterans Park (500 East 160th Place) for a Juneteenth Celebration. For more information, please call 708-210-2900.

Looking for ways to celebrate year-round? The Chicago Southland is rich in Black history. In addition to the Robbins Historical Society & Museum, visitors and locals alike can learn more about the area through significant locations such as the Pullman State Historic Site and the National Park Service Visitor Center on Chicago’s south side; the Illinois Black Hall of Fame at Governors State University; or the Crete Congregational Church, a historical structure built in 1853 that aided escaped enslaved people on their journey to freedom, and was recently acquired by the Crete Area Historical Society and Museum.

For more information on Black history throughout the Chicago Southland, please visit our Travel Inspirations, such as Exploring Black History in the Chicago Southland and Rich in Black History, and checkout Hangout Spots For All for a list of some local Black-owned businesses.

Whether attending a festival, parade or museum, these local Chicago Southland events offer unique and meaningful opportunities to reflect on history while celebrating community. Wishing you a joyous Juneteenth!

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