How Orange County Celebrates Juneteenth

Last year, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, making Juneteenth a federal holiday. In California last year, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation on June 19 stating “Juneteenth National Freedom Day: A Day of Observance.” However, California has yet to make it a public holiday where state workers can take a new paid day off. Government employees can take the day off on June 19 instead of using their annual personal vacation on another day.

Juneteenth commemorates the release of the last enslaved African Americans on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth marks this milestone in American history, and its celebration has spread beyond its origin in Texas, making it a federal holiday in 2021.

Despite ongoing efforts to make June 19th a national holiday, there are still various ways to celebrate this national holiday in Orange County:

Segerstrom festival in June in Costa Mesa

when: June 17-19
Where is it: 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
Tickets: Free entry and a $ 5 Father’s Day ticket
Information:, (714) 556-2787

A three-day celebration of Juneteenth takes place at the Segerstrom Center of the Arts. There will be various events over the weekend such as poetry readings, musical performances and the screening of a “Black Panther” movie. Black creatives and educators will share their experiences, self-expression and knowledge with the community.

Some guests include Peter J. Harris, the author of “The Black Man of Happiness: In Pursuit of My ‘Unalienable Right'” and Jamila Moore Pewu, professor of digital humanities and new media of history at California State University, Fullerton. All events are free with online RSVP required, except for the Father’s Day ticket, which costs $ 5 per person and includes lunch. Also in June, there will be three West African Thursday dance nights to celebrate Juneteenth throughout the month.

This is the Segerstrom Center’s second Juneteenth celebration, with last year’s celebration on a single day, according to Carla Cruz, the center’s senior communications director. Cruz said the center is expanding this celebration for the entire month as a way to continue growing and building community through art and culture.

“We want to create a more connected Orange County,” Cruz said. “As a cultural arts center it is so important for us to be able to present different shows, different shows, different programs for everyone in the community to come together to explore, learn and have fun.”

Gospel Voices by OC in Orange

when: 16-18, Sunday 19 June
Where is it: Musco Center for the Arts, Chapman University, One University Drive, Orange
Tickets: $ 20- $ 53
Information:, (714) 728-7100

Credit: Photo courtesy of the Musco Center for the Arts

The Musco Center for the Arts hosts a June 16 and Father’s Day concert with live theater and musical performances. This celebration of African American artistic achievement and resilience will feature multigenerational black artists in choir, dance, band, orchestra, theater and speech. The arts center is located at One University Drive, Orange and the concert will start at 4pm. Tickets start at $ 20 and can be purchased here.

Gospel Voices of OC is produced by Arts & Learning Conservatory President and CEO Debora Wondercheck, who partnered with the Musco Center for the Arts for this Juneteenth event that highlighted black artists.

“It is a great privilege for me to present diverse talents with a particular focus on the historical significance of black artists throughout history. The afternoon will be a joyful celebration of Juneteenth freedom and excellence to inspire all people of all ages, ”said Wondercheck.

Credit: Photo courtesy of the Musco Center for the Arts

Freedom Day on June 16 in Irvine

when: 11: 00-15: 00, Sunday 19 June
Where is it: Great Park, 8000 Great Park Boulevard, Irvine
Tickets: Free admission

The city of Irvine is hosting a Juneteenth celebration at the Great Park’s Palm Court Arts Complex. The purpose of the event is to celebrate freedom, joy and hope by honoring the cultural contributions and history of African Americans in the community and nation. There will be a market with works by black, indigenous and black people, live music, pop-up arts, entertainment and food. The event is for all ages and is open and free to the public.

Juneteenth Freedom Day in Laguna Beach

when: 15, Sunday 19 June
Where is it: Laguna Beach Center for the Cultural Arts, 235 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach
Tickets: Free movie screening, $ 30 concert and $ 50 concert and barbecue
Information:, (949) 652-2787

Laguna Beach is celebrating Juneteenth for the first time at the Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center. The celebration of black pride, history and voices will include the screening of the Oscar-winning documentary “Summer of Soul”, a live concert, an art and food exhibit. Blues, funk and soul singer O’Malley Jones, known for his flashy and innovative style, will perform with his band Stepping Into Now.

Credit: Photo courtesy of the Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center

Californian artist and event consultant Allyson Allen will exhibit her African American quilted artwork depicting slavery. The red velvet cake will be served with Texan-style barbecue as red foods are traditionally served at Juneteenth celebrations to represent the blood shed by enslaved ancestors. A portion of the proceeds from the event will go to the African American Alliance Fund, which raises awareness of systemic racism and supports African Americans in Orange County.

Allen said that without black history there is no American history and Juneteenth marks the freedom of African Americans nearly 100 years after the American Declaration of Independence.

“Over the years, the Juneteenth celebrations have combined with annual family reunions, which are reminiscent of when newly freed slaves set out to find and reunite with family members they had been separated from,” Allen said. “I am delighted to see that the Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center is celebrating this date with good food, good music and good company. Happy 19th June! “

Juneteenth Celebration and Scholarship Brunch in Anaheim

when: 11: 00-14: 00, Saturday 18 June
Where is it: The Fifth Rooftop Restaurant and Bar, 1650 S Harbor Blvd., Anaheim
Tickets: $ 50- $ 100

Thurgood Marshall Bar Association is a contemporary forensic association committed to connecting, supporting and augmenting Orange County’s black legal community and will host a Juneteenth celebratory brunch at the Fifth Rooftop Restaurant & Bar. The event will feature live music, dance , art, awards and words. The event on Saturday June 18 starts at 11am and tickets range from $ 50 to $ 100.

Celebrate Juneteenth at the Pretend City Children’s Museum in Irvine

when: Friday 17 June
Where is it: Pretend City Children’s Museum, 29 Hubble, Irvine
Tickets: Included with museum admission, which ranges from free to $ 19.95
Information:, (949) 428-3900

The Pretend City Children’s Museum’s Juneteenth celebration will run all day. The purpose of this event is to celebrate black history through creativity, curiosity and cultural awareness. This celebration will include interactive art, sensory history and music. The museum will be open from 10:00 to 12:30 and from 13:30 to 16:00

Jessica Choi is an intern for Arts and Culture at Voice of OC. She can be reached at [email protected]

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