NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — The City of Newport News is commemorating the Juneteenth holiday with a week full of events for its residents.

The week kicked off on Sunday with a free concert and continued on Monday with an inaugural flag-raising ceremony.

Juneteenth is the day in 1865 when enslaved Texans were told they had been freed through the Emancipation Proclaimation by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

Last year, Gov. Ralph Northam declared Juneteenth a state holiday, making the commonwealth the second southern state to do so.

“It’s really important for us and for people to understand what it’s all about,” said Dr. Saundra Cherry, who is the city’s vice mayor.

Cherry says they surveyed the community to find out what events they were interested in attending.

They wanted to make sure people from all over Newport News, not matter the age, could participate.

“It’s because we wanted to make sure we hit every part of the city. Newport News is 26 miles long. We wanted to make sure we had opportunities for those in the north, south, central part of the city [and] open it up not just for our community, but others to come and celebrate Juneteenth with us around the themes of education, awareness, and commemoration,” she said.

Cherry hopes that those from other cultures can also come out and commemorate.

“One of the things we’ve learned from our city is we have many cultures. We’re very diverse. We’re a welcoming city. We embrace other cultures. So, we want to have the opportunity to have unification by having dialogue in the community and not being afraid to touch the elephant in the room sometimes. Let’s talk about it so our city can get along and understand,” she said.

To watch Monday’s ceremony and to hear from the keynote speaker, Rev. Dr. Grainger Browning, Jr., click here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021
6:30-8:30 p.m.
Brittingham-Midtown Community Center- 570 McLawhorne Dr.

Outdoor BINGO game with food, drinks, and giveaways. Click here to register for Bingo.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021
6:30-8 p.m.
Denbigh Community Center- 
15198 Warwick Blvd.
A live interview by contemporary historian (Dr. Eric Claville) with Frederick Douglass (Nathan Richardson) about the Emancipation Proclamation and the meaning of Juneteenth. Following the interview, the audience may ask questions of Mr. Douglass.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Thursday, June 17, 2021
This virtual program features performances of melodic slave music and the rally of slave guardians as they gather the children to a place of rest after a full day of picking cotton. The program interprets the experience of slaves that had not heard of their freedom when President Abraham Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. There is excitement and jubilation when a soldier, through General Order No. 3, reads the Emancipation Proclamation to them on June 19, 1865, announcing that all slaves were free.

Newsome House Tour & Storytime
Thursday, June 17, 2021
6–7:30 p.m.

Enjoy a virtual tour of the beautiful home of J. Thomas Newsome, an African-American attorney, who was a pioneer of prosperity post-Civil War. He became a respected journalist, churchman and civic leader. Watch a story-time for children and discover the story of slavery and the celebration of Juneteenth. Led by a powerful storyteller, our children will learn about the different names given to Juneteenth and why we celebrate the holiday today. 

A Journey to Freedom:  A Juneteenth Production 
Friday, June 18, 2021
7-9 p.m.

Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center- 2410 Wickham Ave.
Screening of an original theatrical Juneteenth production (Winners of the Poster Contest will be announced before the production). 

Freedom Festival 
Saturday, June 19, 2021
Noon-4 p.m.
King-Lincoln Park
– 600 Jefferson Ave.

Click here to learn more and to register for the events.