Celebrate Juneteenth This Weekend With Several Events Happening in Pittsburgh

The city will consider Juneteenth a holiday for the first time, and there are plenty of ways to celebrate.
Juneteenth

PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Events celebrating Juneteenth this weekend will mark history. 

Mayor Bill Peduto announced last year that Pittsburgh will celebrate June 19, a day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, as a holiday. In observance of Juneteenth, which falls on a Saturday this year, offices and facilities will close Friday. 

Most Juneteenth celebrations will take place this weekend, with some occurring later this month. Here are a few to add to your calendar:

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PHOTO COURTESY OF ORANGE BARREL MEDIA & MIKAEL OWUNNA

“Infinite Essence: Celestial Liberation” Public Art Project
Pittsburghers are able to engage with Juneteenth this year from the comfort of their car. “Infinite Essence: Celestial Liberation,” a project showcasing work by Pittsburgh-born visual artist Mikael Owunna, will use digital billboards and kiosks across the city to display images of Black bodies in cosmic patterns.

Curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah in a collaboration with Orange Barrel Media, the project explores the Black body in relation to West African myths and legends to establish Blackness as a divine cosmic force.

“Hopefully, it will make people feel seen,” Ossei-Mensah says, “But concurrently open up a dialogue and conversation around creativity, Black cultural production, spirituality, in a way that isn’t probably necessarily happening.” 

Art will be displayed at four digital billboards located on Route 28 in addition to 11 kiosks at spin bike stations throughout the city until June 30. The art campaign will also feature decals and vinyls of Owunna’s work at Pittsburgh International Airport, Pittsburgh Glass Center and Homewood’s Everyday Cafe until mid-September. For a complete list of locations, go here.

“Art as Liberation: Celebrating Black Art in Pittsburgh” Artist Showcase and Fundraiser
Owunna collaborated with local organizations to create Juneteenth events, including “Art as Liberation: Celebrating Black Art in Pittsburgh.” Hosted by 1Hood Media, the event will showcase Owunna’s work alongside the work of 14 other Black visual artists from Pittsburgh. 

“As an African immigrant artist, everything that I have in the city, in the country is due to the accomplishments and struggles of African Americans,” Owunna says. “I really wanted to use the opportunity and the energy that we’re producing around the larger campaign to really honor that legacy and also bring in other artists into the conversation, specifically African-American artists.”

Free to the public, “Art as Liberation” includes food trucks and performances, as well as opportunities for guests to purchase artwork and create custom-style mirrors via workshops. The event will also host a fundraiser supporting the Antwon Rose II Foundation. More information can be found here.

 Juneteenth Brunch and Conversation
Owunna and Ossei-Mensah will have a conversation about “Infinite Essence: Celestial Liberation” alongside a Juneteenth-themed brunch hosted by Everyday Cafe in Homewood. The event, free to the public, will take place from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday. For more information, go here.

Western Pennsylvania Juneteenth and Black Music Festival
The Western Pennsylvania Juneteenth and Black Music Festival will host nine days of outdoor events at Point State Park and other locations beginning this Friday. Read more about it here.

Music Festival in Frick Park
Pittsburgh Parks Conservatory will host a free concert in Frick Park showcasing local Black artists from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday. Performing artists include Najj Andrea, Jrouz3 and Diarra Imani. Guests will be asked to physically distance and to wear masks. To register for the event, go here.

Visitors are encouraged to stay after the concert for tours of the From Slavery to Freedom Garden, which shows how African Americans gathered food and medicine during their journey to escape slavery.  For more information on booking a tour of the garden, go here.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Solo Performance
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will celebrate Juneteenth with a performance of Kyle Abraham’s “Ces noms que nous portons” by soloist Corey Bourbonniere. The event will take place at Point State Park Sunday at 5 p.m. More information can be found here.

Juneteenth Westinghouse Park Beautification Project
The Mission Continues, the Mayor’s Office, Pittsburgh Parks Conservatory and the Jewish Foundation of Greater Pittsburgh will host a two-day service event aimed at making Homewood residents feel more welcome at Westinghouse Park. Projects include repainting the basketball court as well as building planter benches and picnic tables that are ADA-accessible. The event takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 25 and 26. To register, go here

Mon Valley Juneteenth Music Festival
The First Annual Mon Valley Juneteenth Music Festival takes place from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and includes live dance performances, vendors, a fashion show, food and drinks. Special guests include Mayor Rich Lattanzi, The Deacon Biker Club and Maxxed Out Riders Bike Club. The free festival will be located at Clairton Park Lodge in Clairton. To register, go here

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