FREEDOM FESTIVAL: After two years of COVID, Juneteenth celebrations resume

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By Shirley Hawkins

Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES — After two years of limited celebrations because of the COVID-19 pandemic, South Los Angeles and the rest of the nation will celebrate Juneteenth this weekend with a variety of events, including concerts and a parade.

The celebration that marks the day in 1865 when a Union Army general told the Blacks in Galveston, Texas, that they were freed, 30 months after President Abraham Lincoln issued his the Emancipation Proclamation, is now an official federal holiday to be observed on June 19.

This year’s local celebration will have a twist. On June 20, the 37th annual Kingdom Day Parade, which is normally held in January in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King’s birthday, will be held in his usual location, along Martin Luther King Jr. and Crenshaw boulevards, starting at 10 a.m.

Adrian Dove, chairman of CORE and the Kingdom Day Parade, said the parade, like Juneteenth celebrations, has been canceled for two years due to COVID so he is bringing it bacl now.

The parade will once again be televised live on ABC 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“This year’s theme is ‘Healing America,’” said Dove, a former field worker for King, who said the theme refers to how the country is continuing to heal from the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, currently running for mayor of Los Angeles, will be the parade grand marshal. The parade will feature floats, marching bands, civic leaders, celebrities, nonprofits and local businesses. Blue Shield of California will be the presenting sponsor.

But that is just one of many events being held in the Los Angeles area commemorating Juneteenth. A Juneteenth Festival will be held in Leimert Park from noon to 9 p.m. June 18. Radio personalities from KBLA Talk Radio 1580 will be on hand including founder and CEO Tavis Smiley. The station is celebrating its one-year anniversary.

Visitors to the festival can take part in educational workshops, be entertained by live music, a spoken word stage, two DJ stages and more than 300 vendors.

For more information, visit

County Supervisor Holly Mitchell is hosting a Juneteenth Celebration and Resource Fair from noon to 4 p.m. June 17 at Earvin “Magic” Johnson Park, 12645 Wadsworth Ave. The free event will offer direct access to services including COVID-19 vaccines, housing protection, immigrant rights and more. It also will include live performances, activities for the whole family, music and food.

The Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw Family YMCA, 3820 Santa Rosalia Drive, will host its second Juneteenth Unifest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 18 with giveaways, live performances, hair braiding and food.

Culver City will host a Juneteenth celebration from 1 to 6 p.m. June 19 at the Culver Steps, 9300 Culver Blvd. Mayor Daniel Lee and the city’s Equity and Human Relations Advisory Committee are sponsoring the event, which will feature Black music, spoken word and dance. Performing will be singer Aloe Blacc, Will Gittens, the Benkadi African Drummers and other special guests.

The Lula Washington Dance Theatre will hold a Juneteenth dance concert entitled “Juneteenth: A Classical Music and Dance Concert” from oon to 5 p.m. June 19.

Vocalist Dwight Trible and the Fernando Pullum Youth Jazz Orchestra will be special guests. Choreographer and dancer Lula Washington will be unveiling world premiere choreography by the Lula Washington Dance Company.

The free outdoor festival opens with a complimentary barbecue lunch by Chef Marilyn for the first 300 people to RSVP, which can be done at

The California African American Museum in Exposition Park will host a farmer’s market featuring Prosperity Market from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 18. The eventwill include children’s art activities.

Hollywood Park will host its second annual Summer Bash from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 18 at American Airlines Plaza, Lake Park, 1001 S. Stadium Drive in Inglewood. The event is free and open to all ages, and offers special ticket discounts for the Kinsey African American Art and History Collection, Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl presented by Stifel and upcoming concerts at YouTube Theater.

A Global Celebration of Freedom will be held at the Hollywood Bowl starting at 4:30 p.m. June 19. The event will feature performances by an all-star lineup including Khalid, Earth, Wind & Fire, The Roots, Lucky Daye, Jhené Aiko, Robert Glasper, Killer Mike, Billy Porter, Mary Mary, Anthony Hamilton, Michelle Williams, Mickey Guyton, the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, and more.

Thomas Wilkins and Derrick Hodge will lead the Re-Collective Orchestra, marking the first-ever performance of an all-Black symphony orchestra in the Hollywood Bowl’s 100-year history. Musical direction for the night is provided by Adam Blackstone and Questlove.

Westchester Recreational Park, 7000 W. Manchester Ave., will host a free Juneteenth and L.A. Black History Festival from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 19. There will be live performances, panel discussions with African American authors, a marketplace and a creative zone for kids.

The Leimert Park Comedy Club will host a Juneteenth Comedy Show at the Metaphor Club, 4333 Crenshaw Blvd., from 8 to 10 p.m. June 18.

The lineup includes Chinedu Unaka (“Insecure,” “House Party”) and Chris Spencer (“black-ish,” “The Real Husbands of Hollywood”). Tickets are $20.

The city of West Hollywood will conduct a flag-raising ceremony of the Pan African flag to mark Juneteenth at 10 a.m. June 19 in the auto court behind City Hall, 8300 Santa Monica Blvd.

The ceremony will honor the historical significance of Juneteenth and serve as a gathering space for residents, community members, activists and organizers, as well as elected officials, dignitaries and members of the city’s commissions, advisory boards and social justice task force.

And finally, Fixins Soul Kitchen, the full-service soul food restaurant owned by former NBA player and mayor of Sacramento Kevin Johnson, will hold a Juneteenth celebration from 3 to 9 p.m. in the XBOX Plaza at LA Live, 800 W. Olympic Blvd. Tickets are $16.95 and can be purchased at

Shirley Hawkins is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers. She can be reached at


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