The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American and History will host a variety of virtual and in-person events and programs highlighting the experiences of African American Juneteenth celebrations.

Also known as Freedom Day, Juneteenth marks the moment in United States’ history—June 19, 1865—when the remaining 250,000 enslaved African Americans in Confederate states were legally declared free two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. In the century-and-a half since, the Juneteenth holiday represents a time to gather with family and community, honor the present and reflect on shared history and tradition.


About This Event

In celebration of Juneteenth 2023 the National Museum of African American History and Culture returns to its perennial theme, Senses of Freedom: The Taste, Sound, and Experience of an African American Celebration.   
During this year’s Juneteenth Community Day visitors can explore the gifts of gardening and the culinary arts, hear stories, listen to music, and discover their inner artist with crafts for all ages. We invite the public to visit the Museum’s galleries, grounds, and Sweet Home Cafe to create memories and learn more about this historic holiday both inside and outside the museum. 


Big Objects, Big Stories: The Museum in the Making, 11:15 am

During this 25-minute presentation, visitors participate in a guided tour focused on the design of the National Museum of African American History and Culture and its unique architectural features.

Meet at the Oculus on the North side of the Museum.

The Culinary Garden - Representing the Diaspora (unless otherwise noted, activities take place from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm)

Many plants that we revere and enjoy for their great beauty, life sustaining properties, and cultural continuity, crossed the Atlantic aboard ships carrying the enslaved centuries ago from Africa. Audiences will learn about three such plants highlighted in gardens surrounding the Museum.

The Culinary Garden is on the Southeast corner of the Museum grounds.

This tubular, green pod containing tiny white seeds can be found growing in gardens and served on tables throughout the southern U.S. the Middle East, and the Caribbean.

Pickled Okra sides available for purchase inside at the Sweet Home Café.

Pickling demonstration by Chefs Ramin Coles and Kyre Rochon 12:00 and 2:00 pm.

(Executive Chefs at Restaurant Associates, National Museum of African American History and National Museum of American History)

Learn more about the history and significance of this beautiful and flavorful flowering plant (a cousin to Okra) and take home a recipe for a hibiscus drink.

Hibiscus Lemonade is on sale in the Kiosk outdoors and the Sweet Home Café.

The Artist Who Saved the Fish Pepper from Extinction

Find out how famed African American folk artist Horace Pippin contributed to the rescue of the heirloom plant known as Fish Pepper from extinction by sharing its seeds with a friend. These typically pale peppers were frequently used in cream sauces.

Want to know what it tastes like? Visit the Sweet Home Café to purchase the Whole Fried Seasonal Local Fish, Chesapeake Fish Pepper Escabeche. (Pending the sourcing of Fish Peppers)

On the West Lawn of the Museum:

Talk Back Board
Respond to overarching questions related to the present and future of the Museum’s grounds.

Seed Art Activity
Inspired by Red Beans and Rice Fleur de Lis (2010) by Myesha Francis, on permanent display in Cultural Connections, visitors can create their own art pieces rice, beans, and seeds.

African Drumming (times tbd)
Presented by Urban Foli Djembe Orchestra Performing Arts, Inc. Audience members can join drop-in lessons and jam sessions provided by talented local percussionists.

Stories Under the Trees (times tbd)
Celebrated storyteller Diane Macklin shares folktales from Africa and the African Diaspora that focus on gardens, growing, cooking and Juneteenth.

Indoors (Tickets Required) 
History Galleries, 11:00 am and 1:00 pm

History Alive!: USCT: Juneteenth: What it Means, and Why We Celebrate
Meet at C3/Landing Area
Hear real stories about Blacks in the military and explore themes of freedom, self-determination, citizenship, valor, and much, much more.

On Stage in Heritage Hall, 11:00 am and 2:00 pm

Sounds of Juneteenth
The Museum’s House Band will perform music that celebrates the voices of emancipation.

L2 in the Explore More! Gallery: Cooling Off with a Do-It-Yourself Fan
Crafters of all skill levels can create Juneteenth-inspired fans.

Kuumba Jewelry Making
Visitors can make bracelets that reflect the color palette of Juneteenth.

Upcoming Programs

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