Denver Juneteenth celebrations start this weekend

Music, a parade, parties, important discussions and a lifetime achievement award for Chauncey Billups.
4 min. read
Kahdijah James marches with the Carribbean Student Alliance in Denver’s Juneteenth Parade. June 19, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Juneteenth may be next week but the celebrations start this weekend.

From community chats at Cleo Parker Robinson Dance to the annual Juneteenth Music Festival, featuring Bow Wow (my teen heart!), Denver does it big every year for the freedom holiday.

It’s been a traditional celebration in the city since 1966, long before President Joe Biden signed a bill making it a federal holiday, Juneteenth National Independence Day, in 2021.

Juneteenth celebrates June 19, 1865, the day enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas learned of their freedom. This was two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed into order.

It is Independence Day for the African American community and the celebrations are plenty.

Here’s a list of events going from Friday through next week. If we missed any, send us an email.

Juneteenth Jump-Off Jam

June 14 at Spangalang Brewery, 2736 Welton Street

The kick-off starts Friday at Spangalang with music from DJ DEE Smooth and DJ Kimani.

Juneteenth Music Festival

June 15-16 at 2701 Welton St.

Rapper Bow Wow is headlining the two-day event with a free show. The annual festival will feature hundreds of local businesses, vendors, live music and a parade.

Jazoni Johnson leads the Platinum Diva's Denver's Juneteenth Parade. June 19, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The parade is Saturday and starts at 11 a.m. at Manual High School. Saturday also features a ton of award presentations including the DreamBig Award Presentation. Recipients include DJ Squizzy Taylor, and Councilmember Darrell Watson.

On Sunday, NBA star and current coach Chauncey Billups will be awarded the Juneteenth Music Festival Lifetime Achievement Award. Billups was recently named to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Colorado Public Radio will also have a booth along Welton. Stop by and share a Juneteenth memory or tell us what news you’re interested in learning more about.

Juneteenth Music Festival after-parties

June 15-16

On Saturday, head to Mirus Gallery & Art Bar Denver, 1144 Broadway,
dressed in your 2000s best to party with DJ Mannie Fresh. Tickets start at $20.

On Sunday, Vibes after Dark (Vibes in the Park’s alter ego) will host an official after-party at Mile High Spirits, 2201 Lawrence St. There’s going to be a special appearance and music from Dj Squizzy Taylor, SINZ, and DJ MnM. Tickets start at $20.

Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Juneteenth lineup

June 14-15

The historic dance troupe is hosting a slew of events for the freedom celebration starting June 14th.

Cleo Parker Robinson speaks to the crowd attending a panel in her theater on Juneteenth. June 19, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

From 2 to 4 p.m. there will be a Homeownership Opportunity Discussion in collaboration with the Colorado Housing & Finance Authority. The event is the starting off point of a two-year goal by both groups to ready 50 attendees from homeownership in Colorado.

From 5:30 to 6:30, there will be a panel moderated by Cameron Trimble titled, Hip Hop & Politics: A Millennial Conversation.

On Saturday, the conversations continue with a discussion titled, Our Community Our Impact: Men in Politics at 11 a.m.

At 12:30, CPR’s Chandra Thomas-Whitfield will host a panel discussion on When Women Win at The program will be recorded and broadcasted.

Afterwards at 3 p.m., Cleo Parker Robinson and Malik Robinson will give comments at the Juneteenth Music Festival stage. There will also be a duet performed by Cleo II, the Second Company of CPRD.

Day-of events

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Blvd.

DMNS is having one of their SCFD free days! Stop by for access to community resources and family activities.

Bakary Dukary has tons of jewlery for sale at the Five Points Music Festival. June 19, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue

The Center will show a documentary titled “The Right to Read” by Oakland-based NAACP activist Kareem Weaver. The film centers on the idea that when a child is illiterate, their chances of incarceration, homelessness and unemployment increase. Weaver, fed up with the statistics, sought to change the landscape. Recommended ticket price is $12.

Creepatorium, 1974 S Acoma St

The alternative venue is hosting “Wildest Dreams: A Juneteenth Burlesque Event” described as a “night filled with powerful performances celebrating freedom, empowerment, and expression through the art of burlesque.” Sounds spicy. Tickets start at $15.

Sexploratorium, 1800 S Broadway

The sex education center is hosting “Acts of Resistance: An Adult Showcase (Black Exclusive).” A show that celebrates Juneteenth with a “sensual showcase featuring talented performers of the African diaspora.” There will be drag performances, poetry readings, music and aerial acts. Tickets start at $10.

Correction: This story has been updated with corrected timing and event description involving Cleo Parker Robinson Dance.

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