Updated 2024

It is known as “America's Second Independence Day.” Yet there is no battle marking that day. No birthday of a new nation. Not even an anniversary of a document. Rather Juneteenth, the commemoration of freedom from slavery, commemorates June 19, 1865 - the date federal troops arrived in Galveston, TX to enforce Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and free the last Americans held in captivity.

In many ways, Juneteenth is America's genuine Independence Day, because it marks the date that the promise of freedom for all was first realized across the United States. 


Activities for Juneteenth

Here are several ways you can mark this important date in American history – and also help support the legacy of Black Americans and the equality movement pushing forward across the nation today.


Attend Local Celebrations and Events

Juneteenth Fairfax Parks
Photo courtesy Fairfax County Parks Authority

Explore local events to celebrate and help grow your understanding and knowledge of the African American experience in America.

History Talks - The Long Road to Freedom: The US Army and Juneteenth at the National Museum of the United States Army
June 5, 12, 19

On June 5, 12 and 19, the National Museum of the United States Army's monthly History Talk event will be highlighting Juneteenth / Emancipation Day. This History Talk will explore the role of the US Army in the liberation of enslaved persons and also honor Black Soldiers who fought and sacrificed their lives for freedom for all. 


Journeys In Genealogy
June 14

The National Museum of African American History and Culture and Woodlawn & Pope-Leighey House are hosting a genealogy program on June 14 for visitors to learn all about conducting research on tracing your family trees while also highlighting the similarities and differences unique to African American genealogy. Woodlawn is hosting this program to complement its new exhibit, "Woodlawn: People & Perspectives." This exhibit delves into the contributions of African American families. For trivia buffs, test your skills at the end with the ultimate trivia game to see what you have learned! 


Sully Annual Car Show
June 16

Attend the Sully Annual Car Show on June 16, to see over 200 antique cars on display. Classic cars will be judged and trophies awarded. Included in the show will be restoration displays, cars for sale, tours of the first floor of Sully Historic Site's main house, music, food, a children’s tent, and a flea market! Learn about Juneteenth and little-known African American inventors and patent holders in the transportation industry. 


Freedom Before Emancipation: Family Day for Juneteenth at George Washington's Mount Vernon
June 19-22

People of all ages can celebrate Emancipation Day to honor the enslaved people who fought for freedom. This family day at George Washington's Mount Vernon is dedicated to learning more about Ona Judge, Christopher Sheels, and many other men and women who left a lasting legacy. Additionally, do not miss the special performance, Breaths Along the Potomac: Breath Art Silent Walks at Mount Vernon with Dominic Shodekeh Talifero. 


Juneteenth Celebration at Frying Pan Farm Park
June 19

For family activities, don't miss Frying Pan Farm Park's Juneteenth celebration on Wednesday, June 19, which will celebrate African American stories, food traditions, music, and contributions to American spiritual life. Activities will include a special guest storyteller, live music, crafts, history, and food trucks offering African American cuisine.


Paths of Freedom Seekers
June 19

Visit Ellanor C. Lawrence Park on June 19 for Paths of Freedom Seekers, including stories of African Americans who were forced to live and work on this farm. Reflect on individuals’ stories of resistance and survival. Learn how enslaved communities and freedom seekers have forged a path of resiliency throughout American history.


Be sure to keep tabs on our event calendar for more Juneteenth programming, including activities like a symphony concert and a garden celebration!

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Learn from our past to understand our present

Fairfax County and the surrounding national capital region offer many sites and attractions that help tell the story of the struggles, sacrifices, and vital contributions that African Americans have made throughout our history. Take some time to learn about these places through online tours, educational materials, or an in-person visit (check operational hours before visiting). A few under-the-radar spots include:

Gum Springs

Gum Springs is a small town, established in 1833 by West Ford, which became a haven for those formerly enslaved, including both freedmen and runaways. The town continued to thrive and is one of the oldest African American communities in the United States. Today, a small museum and cultural center located in the Mount Vernon area of Fairfax County tells these stories and more. Read more about the Gum Springs story here

Laurel Grove School

Laurel Grove, a former African American schoolhouse, tells the unique story of a community’s refusal to narrow its ambitions. This site, now the last remaining African American school in the region, serves as a "living museum" and is typically open by appointment only, but you can learn more about it here.

Tinner Hill

Tinner Hill Historic Site

Tinner Hill, in Falls Church, is recognized as the location where the first rural branch of the NAACP was initiated in the United States. Visit a 15-foot monument that honors those who made this a reality, and nearby, explore the Tinner Hill Historic Park and Zig Zag Monument, a sculpture that follows the original location of the segregation line. The Tinner Hill story is a fascinating one to understand - learn a little more about it here.


Historic Pleasant Grove Church

Historic Pleasant Grove Church
Image courtesy Friends of Pleasant Grove

This community landmark and historic church was built in 1895 by and for African and Native Americans. On-site, you can also visit the Frances K. Moore Memorial Museum, named for a descendant of the church founders. It features a unique collection of late 19th and 20th-century household furnishings, tools, photographs, and memorabilia.

There are many more sites, museums, memorials, and monuments in and around Fairfax County, like the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Or, learn about Sully Historic Site's interesting ties to the Underground RailroadBe sure to bookmark our guide to these and more African American experiences.

Support Black-owned businesses

There are hundreds upon hundreds of restaurants in Fairfax County, but if you want to support local, Back-owned eateries, there are many cuisine options to choose from as well. Grab a taste of the islands at Caribbean Plate in Falls Church, treat yourself to a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony at Enatye Ethiopian Cuisine in Herndon, find comfort in delicious southern home cooking at Della J’s Delectables on Richmond Highway, or take home a mouth-watering pie from Pie Gourmet in Vienna.

For an evolving list of Black-owned restaurants in Fairfax County, click here. Do you know of a spot that should be added? Let us know in the comments.


For more information on local black-owned businesses, please visit the website of the Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce or this Black-Owned Business Directory on Yelp.