Celebrating Baltimore’s Rich Local Heritage of Black Culture + Tradition
While Juneteenth (June 19) has been a long-celebrated day within the Black community, it was only made an official federal holiday in 2021. Also known as Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, and Black Independence Day, this holiday commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.
As we take this day to reflect on the victories, struggles, and continuous fight to end racism and inequality, we’ve compiled a list of resources and content highlighting authors, artists, events, and work that advances the cause of Black liberation in Baltimore (and beyond).
Juneteenth in Baltimore
Join us in exploring and celebrating Baltimore’s rich local heritage of Black culture and tradition by checking out the following resources:
- The Real Baltimore Is a Place Brimming With Black Joy is a beautiful tribute to Baltimore’s Black community by award-winning travel writer and published poet Briona Lamback. Her words capture the joys, sorrows, and love for the Baltimore of her youth and her optimism for a bright future.
- The Peale Center is building the world’s most extensive digital collection of Baltimore’s stories and artists. Established by Rembrandt Peale in 1814 and reopened in 2016 as a Community Museum, the Peale Center wants to evolve the role of museums as a place for local creators and storytellers to find the support they need to create a rich and accessible cultural legacy for Baltimore.
- No list that celebrates Black culture and tradition could be complete without mentioning AFRAM! AFRAM is one of the largest African American festivals on the East Coast, celebrated at Druid Hill Park. Thousands of people flock to Baltimore to enjoy world-class entertainment, delicious local eats and buy from their vendors and artisans. It’s a weekend full of color, vibrance, and heritage.
- Take a deep dive into the personal politics of Black joy with Black Boy Smile, A Memoir in Moments by Baltimore native and University of Baltimore Professor D. Watkins. It chronicles Watkins’ childhood in a city where poverty and a drug epidemic thrust him into an adult world no child should face. His story of heartbreak, redemption, and evolution pays tribute to the beauty and pitfalls of Black manhood, with his writing style capturing the stoic and toxic masculinity that generational hardships bring about and how breaking that cycle has given him true freedom.
Exploring Black Art and Culture
Can’t make it to Baltimore for Juneteenth weekend? Refresh on recent conversations surrounding Black culture and community without leaving home:
- Read the BOMB Magazine interview of Mary Lovelace O’Neal. O’Neal is an accomplished and influential abstract painter whose work Running Freed More Slaves Than Lincoln Ever Did is currently on display at the Baltimore Museum of Art. With one painting title alone, she’s able to summarize so much of a perspective that’s crucial for everyone to reflect on during Juneteenth. Read the interview for more truth bombs.
- Episode 2 of Home on Apple TV+ centers around artist, and urban planner Teaster Gates, whose steadfast work in elevating the cultural infrastructure of his Chicago Southside neighborhood is a model for engaged community members everywhere.
- High on the Hog on Netflix explores the origins, history, and evolution of Black cuisine, as well as its expansive and prevalent influence on how all Americans eat. You’ll learn a lot, but you’ll also want to keep a towel handy because your mouth will water.
While Juneteenth is a day of celebration, it’s also important to take a step back and think about the history of Black people in the US. While this holiday commemorates the end of slavery, there’s still a long road ahead of us and many things that we still have to do. Societies evolve not because one incredible person made a big change—systemic changes happen when all of us join together to make small, consistent steps.
Here’s to making the world a better place, many small steps at a time.