VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Beach Cultural Affairs Department announced a series of free arts and cultural events to celebrate Juneteenth.

The holiday dates back to 1865 and is the official date when slavery was abolished throughout the country. Governor Northam declared it a state holiday last year.

“Every year we celebrate July 4th, Independence Day … but that freedom we celebrate did not include everyone … it’s time we elevate this, not just a celebration by and for some Virginians, but one acknowledged and celebrated by all of us because that’s how important this event is,” Northam said last year.

This year’s events in Virginia Beach will begin on June 17 and run to the official holiday on June 19.

“We’re so happy to be able to use the power of the cultural arts to bring people together in-person for this important celebration,” said Emily Labows, Director of the Virginia Beach Cultural Affairs Department. “We look forward to providing our community with a variety of cultural experiences to connect with their friends, family and neighbors, all while learning about important histories.”

The schedule of events is:

June 17

June 18

June 19

  • African American Music Month Celebration will be held June 20 from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Renaissance Academy grounds and feature TFC Band, with their signature musical blend of Classic Soul, Motown, Funk and more. The event will also feature Becky Livas and a Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador from Teens With a Purpose.

Learn more about the events.