President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, but the National Museum of African American History and Culture notes that, “it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. As a result, in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, enslaved people would not be free until much later.”
In 1865, 2000 Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas with news of the Emancipation Proclamation, and more than 250,000 enslaved African Americans learned that they had been freed by executive decree. This day came to be known as Juneteenth, marking our country’s second Independence Day.
In 2019, Governor Tom Wolf officially declared June 19 as Juneteenth National Freedom Day in Pennsylvania. Each year, Juneteeth celebrations occur across the state, including the Greater Philadelphia Area, Chester County, and right here in Coatesville. Here are just a few of the many Juneteenth events happening around ChesCo and the surrounding areas.
Journeying Towards Freedom
Voices Underground and the PA Tourism Office are partnering to host Juneteenth in Pennsylvania: Journeying Towards Freedom. A variety of programs will take place over the course of three days near Coatesville, including an evening with author and political commentator Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr. on June 17th, the Journey To Freedom Juneteenth Festival on June 18th, and a fireside chat with Adrian Miller, otherwise known as the Soul Food Scholar. For more information, click here.
On Saturday, June 18th, Chester County Hospital and community partners will be hosting a community wellness and colon cancer prevention event for residents of the Coatesville area. This “Juneteenth Drive-By” will take place at Jubilee Evangelistic Ministries from 11AM-3PM, rain or shine, with free at-home colon cancer screening kits, free blood pressure screenings, and giveaways. Call the W.C. Atkinson Memorial Community Service Center at 610-380-6193 for more information.
The Chester County History Center
The Chester County History Center will be celebrating Juneteenth with a variety of special programs from June 16 through 18, including a presentation by Dane Tilghman, African-American visual artist and West Chester native, a family-friendly event with Nahjee Grant, children’s book author, and a moderated conversation with Rev. Anderson Porter. There will also be walking tours of downtown West Chester throughout the month, highlighting abolitionist activities and their impact on the Underground Railroad in Chester County. All programs are free and open to the public. Go to mycchc.org to register.
Juneteenth Slam Poetry
Enjoy inspirational poetry, music, and family fun at the Juneteenth Poetry Slam in Kennett Square, powered by the National Youth Foundation and the Kennett Library, and sponsored by State Farm Insurance. This free, public event is happening on June 18th from 11AM to 1PM at Anson B. Nixon Park. The MCs are Roxanne Shante, hip hop icon and Sirius XM radio show host, and Isabella Hanson, founder of the international “I Matter” poetry contest and winner of the 2022 Princeton Prize. Click here to learn more.
Juneteenth Carnival And Comedy Show
Movement Community Development Corporation (MCDC) will be hosting a Juneteenth Celebration and Carnival with rides, food, games, prizes, and entertainment. This three-day event will take place at Gateway Park in Coatesville from Tuesday, June 14th, through Saturday, June 18th. Admission is free with ride tickets and wristbands available for purchase. For prices, click here. On the evening of June 18th, you can also catch comedians Timmy Hall, Ray Diva, and Eddie Daniels at Teazers Bar and Lounge on Lincoln Highway in Coatesville. Tickets for the Juneteenth Comedy Celebration are $25 in advance, and doors open at 7PM.
Philadelphia Parade And Juneteenth Festival
Discover Philadelphia calls the annual Philadelphia Juneteenth Parade and Festival “one of the largest Juneteenth celebrations in the nation.” This year, the parade will kick off on Sunday, June 19th at 52nd Street and Parkside Avenue, and there will be a live broadcast on 6ABC that includes floats, marching bands, dance groups, and appearances by public figures. The parade will then head through West Philadelphia before ending at Malcolm X Park. After the parade, there will be a festival with merchants, food vendors, and family-friendly activities. Visit JuneteenthPhilly.org for details.
The Alliance for Health Equity (formerly Brandywine Health Foundation) is a philanthropic organization striving to advance a more equitable, resilient and healthy community for all residents of the Greater Coatesville area. We pursue our mission by providing grants and scholarships to local nonprofits and students that address health and economic disparities and social justice. We also build partnership programs and give voice to those often left out of community solution building to improve the overall health of their communities. 100% of contributions go directly to those in need.