June 19th is Juneteenth, known as the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the U.S. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Texas to deliver news that the Civil War had ended and that all slaves were free. This day came two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation — meaning freedom was delayed for many enslaved people. Juneteenth is the celebration of the day when all slaves were liberated — and several Juneteeth events are happening in the Iowa City area to celebrate.
Iowa City has a history of celebrating this important day. For several years, the community has come together for a Juneteenth commemoration featuring live music, dancing, and more. This year, several events are occurring to mark this important holiday.
Juneteenth Events in the Iowa City Area
When: Now – Saturday, June 19
Where: Various Black owned, local businesses
What: Walk-in to participating Black-owned businesses and learn more about Juneteenth and Black history in Johnson County. Pick up a punch card at any of the participating businesses, have it stamped at a minimum of seven locations and be entered into a drawing to win a $100 or $50 gift card from one of the businesses.
- Venus Beauty Supply
- Textures Salon
- Keto Kitchen
- Dunn Brothers
- Crepes De Luxe Café
- Christina’s Unity Beauty Supply
- A to Z Thrift Store
- Basic Goods
- Tweety Juice Bar
- Modina African Market
- Rodney’s Jamaican Jerk
- Island Vybz
- First Class Boutiques
Be sure to visit some of the other locally owned Black businesses in the Iowa City area.
When: Wednesday, June 16 at 4 p.m.
What: This virtual fair will feature opportunities to learn more about the variety of programs and resources available in the Iowa City community. This year’s event will feature sessions about financial literacy, wealth, and the history of Juneteenth. The first 100 people to register will receive a swag bag containing items from participating vendors.
When: Thursday, June 17, from 5 – 8 p.m.
Where: Chauncey Swan Park
What: Enjoy a night of family fun to mark Juneteenth! This is a downtown, community block party. The celebration will include food, music and a bounce house, along with a 3-on-3 basketball tournament. The event is free and open to the public. Please bring your own lawn chairs. An outside, free screening of Miss Juneteenth will follow the block party.
When: Saturday, June 19 at 11 a.m.
Where: Riverfront Crossings Park
What: Drive through the Riverfront Crossings parking lot and pick up a free meal from Rodney’s Jamaican Jerk & BBQ or Wich-Uh-Waffle. First come, first served — while supplies last. Juneteenth t-shirts will be given away during the event.
The Food of Juneteenth for Teens
When: Monday, June 21 at 1 p.m.
Where: Ped Mall
What: An exploration of Juneteenth through farming and food, inspired by chef Michael Twitty and the Book We Are Each Other’s Harvest. Make a fresh salad with African American greens. Register now!
For more information and additional events, visit the City of Iowa City’s Juneteenth page.