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Here's a look at Juneteenth celebrations across Eastern North Carolina

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From cookouts to educational events, Eastern North Carolina is gearing up to celebrate Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. This year is the fourth since it became a federal holiday, though celebrations go back decades in ENC. Activities throughout this month offer something for everyone to learn about Black history and culture, and enjoy the spirit of community. Here's a look at what's happening across the region to mark freedom's jubilee.

New Bern

The 12-day celebration coordinated by the nonprofit Juneteenth of New Bern has already begun, but there's still a lot on the calendar. This Friday, the Craven Arts Council & Gallery is hosting a Juneteenth art exhibition as part of its month's art walk program. The Gallery will present works by local African American artists that highlight their heritage and cultural expression. The Main Gallery will feature these works through June, while the Art Walk takes place this Friday from 5-9.

A rooftop kickoff party is scheduled for Saturday. The fundraising event is a partnership between JONB and Young Urban Professionals of ENC, a nonprofit that promotes entrepreneurship and offers mentorship within marginalized communities. Themed 'African Renaissance,' the event will have local seafood, drinks, games, music, and an auction. The YUP 6th Annual Rooftop Celebration is this Friday at 7 at the Oliver & Cheek law offices.

The New Bern Civic Theater is hosting Sankofa 2024 this weekend. Sankofa translates to "looking back in order to move forward." The play will feature "a pageant of historic and current day expressive arts crafted by the African American community," including songs, dances, stories, poetry, and mime. Sankofa takes place this Friday and Saturday at the New Bern Civic Theater.

The annual parade is slated for this Saturday as well. With fireworks, bouncy houses, water slides, and a live broadcast from KISS 101.9's DJ Danny Ocean, the all-day event takes place at Broad St., Roundtree St., and Henderson Park. The event opens with the parade at 11 and concludes with fireworks at sundown. More details on the JONB events webpage.


Many of the events in Greenville will take place next week, starting with the music festival Greenville Grooves on June 16 at Town Common. The festival will open at 6:30 with the opening act DJ Six Four. The headliner is jazz musician Carroll Dashiell, a former professor of 30 years at ECU who now chairs Howard University's music department. The event is intended to kick off a week of Juneteenth celebrations in the city. Food and vendors will be onsite, and it will conclude with a fireworks show.

In the middle of next week, the city will hold a dedication of a new public art piece and relocation of a historical marker in the Town Common on Wednesday. Created by artists Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan, the art piece is a trolley shelter that mimics a front porch, with a porch swing replacing the typical bus stop bench. On either side of the shelter are depictions of the Town Common's past and future -- a historic photo of 1st Street and a rendering of Greenville's future by local artist Rakia Jackson. The artwork is part of the city's Emerald Loop plan, which aims to invest in downtown through creative art and a public transit trolley system. The historical marker is part of the African American Cultural Trail and is being relocated next to the trolley shelter. The unveiling is Wednesday, June 19th at 10 a.m.

Closing out the week is the Juneteenth Jamboree at the Town Common on Saturday, June 22 from 4-9:30 p.m. The family-friendly event will have bounce houses, food trucks, fireworks, and live music at the Greenville Toyota Amphitheater. Also, tours of the African American Cultural Trail will be taking place.


Jacksonville's Juneteenth Cultural Festival is this Saturday at Riverwalk Park. Starting at 10 a.m. with the Freedom Parade, the festival will include food trucks, vendors, and live entertainment.

On Wednesday next week, June 19th, another festival will take place on the official Juneteenth holiday at Riverwalk Park. The Freedom Festival will be put on by the Jacksonville Onslow Juneteenth group and includes vendors, entertainment, and food celebrating Black heritage, culture, and the community. The Freedom Festival begins at 3:00 on Wednesday.

Carteret County

Beaufort's 4th Annual Juneteenth by the Sea is this Friday on Middle Lane. Starting at 5 p.m., the event opens with a block party and a BBQ cookoff. Artists, dancers, and performers will also be featured. Friday's festivities conclude with a concert at Backstreet Pub at 6 p.m. On Saturday, though, the celebration continues with a golf tournament at 9:00 a.m. at the Beaufort Club followed by a Juneteenth Farmers Market on the courtyard grounds.

In Morehead City, a Juneteenth Small Business Vendor Market will be held at Carteret Community College's Small Business Center on June 17th, starting at 11 a.m. Hundreds of local businesses will be featured, from handmade crafts to local chefs.

“This event is a tribute to the historical significance of Juneteenth and an opportunity to showcase the talents of local small businesses,” said Victoria Washington, Small Business Center Coordinator at Carteret CC. “We’re excited to bring together our community to celebrate black excellence, community, culture, and of course, small businesses.”

Families can enjoy live music, art displays, and fun activities at the Juneteenth Small Business Vendor Market.


Professional jazz pianist and Kinston native Le'Andra McPhatter will perform at the Kinston-Lenoir Public Library on Thursday, June 20, in celebration of the holiday. McPhatter and her band will take the stage from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. for the free community concert.

Late next week, Kinston will host a Juneteenth & Father's Day Festival June 18 from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the African American Music Park. Located at the corner of Queen and Springhill Streets, the festival will include local performers, artisans, businesses and food trucks.

Ryan is an Arkansas native and podcast junkie. He was first introduced to public radio during an internship with his hometown NPR station, KUAF. Ryan is a graduate of Tufts University in Somerville, Mass., where he studied political science and led the Tufts Daily, the nation’s smallest independent daily college newspaper. In his spare time, Ryan likes to embroider, attend musicals, and spend time with his fiancée.