A Day to Reflect: Juneteenth 2023


June 19, also known as Juneteenth, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States when Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas to announce the end of the Civil War and all enslaved people were now free.

One of the oldest celebrated days in the United States, the Juneteenth date is now widely recognized in the American consciousness as we revisit our nation’s history. Juneteenth was proclaimed a federal holiday and became an official Illinois holiday in June 2021. 

The national reckoning over race helped set the stage for Juneteenth to become the first new federal holiday since 1983, when Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created. 

“We are the Land of Lincoln – with a proud legacy of embracing the emancipation and rejecting slavery even before the Civil War as a safe haven for enslaved people traveling the Underground Railroad. It is only fitting that Illinois is now at the forefront of recognizing Juneteenth – allowing our communities a chance to honor those before us and to celebrate the freedom it represents today. As our nation continues to reflect on the impacts of its history, we encourage Illinoisans to join celebrations in their communities to recognize the importance of Juneteenth this year and in years ahead," said Stephanie Taylor, co-chair of the Illinois Juneteenth Committee. 


The Illinois Juneteenth Committee is a grassroots-driven group comprised of community organizers who are leading the charge on educating residents and communities statewide in acknowledgement, celebration and advocacy of the importance of Juneteenth in American history.

Here’s how and where you can celebrate the legacy of Juneteenth across Illinois: 


Along the Mississippi River, Alton will mark 32 years of celebrating Juneteenth at James H. Killion Park with cultural presentations, performances and homemade cuisine.

Discover untold Black stories through an audio and visual walking tour of downtown Alton. The 1-mile route along the Broadway corridor includes personal stories from 15 residents.


Enjoy a full day of Juneteenth activities and celebrations including the 2023 Juneteenth Freedom & Heritage Celebration at the beloved Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park. On June 17, commemorate African American heritage and help support Black-owned businesses with music, live entertainment, African American History tributes, poetry, food & craft vendors, chess tournaments and more. Hosted by African American Men of Unity (AAMOU).  

Afterward, head over to Smith Street in Aurora to watch the Juneteenth Car Parade where dozens of sports cars, motorcycles, hot rods, classic automobiles and more will take the streets in a show of support for the African American community and celebrate the Juneteenth Emancipation of 1865. Hosted by the Community Advocacy Awareness Network.


Join us for a day of celebration, information & inspiration during this year's Juneteenth Community 2023 Celebration featuring entertainment and performances, community resources, vendors and food trucks. Sponsors: The Mclean County History Museum and the Bloomington-Normal Black History Project 


Join us and the Black Chamber of Commerce of Southern Illinois for this year’s Juneteenth Block Party. From 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM, Jackson to Gum Street will be blocked off for a fun-filled evening of live entertainment, food & drink from many local Black-owned vendors and businesses, face painting, Double Dutch, cookie decorating and more. Sponsors: Planned Parenthood®, First Southern Bank, SIU Credit Union, and Carbondale Park District

Chicago area

Come help True Rock Ministries support local Black-owned businesses on June 17 with their annual event called Celebrating Juneteenth. Visitors will be treated to delicious BBQ, turkey burgers, and quarter chicken. Then it'll be time to dance along to the hits of the 60s and 70s.

The DuSable Museum of African American History, the Nation’s Oldest Independent African American Museum, is Celebrating 62 years. Pull up to the DuSable Juneteenth BBQ on June 19, 2023, 10:00 am - 8:00 pm, B.Y.O.G. Bring your own grill.

If you're in the Bronzeville area on Saturday 17, join local community organizers as they honor the past, celebrate the moment and create the future with their own family-friendly 2023 Juneteenth Celebration. The event will feature live entertainment, interactive activities, local artists and small businesses while you enjoy and immerse yourself the rich culture of black Chicago and learn about the significance of the emancipation holiday. Additionally, if you're looking to share in more educational activities, the Columbus Park Chicago Park District is throwing their 3rd annual Austin Adams 2023 Juneteenth event as they commemorate "Freedom Day" where visitors can learn as historians share accounts and tales that occurred during the days of Emancipation. 

To keep the festivities going, be sure to stop over on Sacramento Dr. to attend the Juneteenth Village Fest the next day on Sunday, June 18 for carnival rides, vendors, and FREE performances by Angie Stone, Talib Kweli, Marsha Ambrosius, Kindred and the Family Soul and BJ the Chicago and many other local performers.





Get ready for a day of fun, family and festivities on June 17 at Festival Park for the annual Juneteenth Cultural Festival. Powered by CULTUR5, the African American Coalition of Kane County is inviting you to downtown Elgin to celebrate Juneteenth and African American culture with food, history, arts and entertainment for the whole family.


Experience the joy and vibrancy of African American art and culture at the 2nd Juneteenth Arts Fair on June 17. Held at the Stephenson Country Fairgrounds, Elevated Voices will bring the creative Black community together again to express themselves through art with the theme of this year’s event centered around cowboys and the wild west. Visitors can witness the rich creativity of Black artists first-hand and enter raffles, listen to live music, play games and more.


Join us for the Juneteenth Celebration in Moline where guest speaker, Mason, will give an oral history of the history of the federal emancipation holiday with entertainment provided by the Missionary Baptist Church and a young choir and dance praise group. Catering will also be provided by Smokin' Goodness. Starts at 2:00 PM. Sponsored by Heritage Woods of Moline. 


Plan to spend the day on June 17 at the Carver Center at John Gwynn Park for its returning Juneteenth Fest, which will feature a tribute to Hip-Hop music, horseback riding, a car show, free youth haircuts, Community Awards and performances (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.).


Head to Southern Illinois on June 17 where Quincy will play host once again to its annual Juneteenth Community Festival! This year's festival will include an incredible array of exciting performers and entertainment including the Mid-Missouri High Steppers, Gospel Rappers, Praise Dancers, Kid Zone, Gospel singing groups, art display, talent shows, games, dance contests, health fair vendors, book fairs and so much more. Plus, find out which two nominees will take home the title of Lil Mr. and Mrs. Juneteenth. 


The longest-running Juneteenth celebration in Illinois is back! The 33rd Annual Juneteenth Celebration returns once again this year to Rockford for a collaborative two-day event. On Sunday, you can attend church services in the AM, show off your dancing skills during the DJ Dex & Money Dance Giveaway and attend a live concert and show at Sinnissippi Park. 

On Monday, RPS District 205 will kick Day 2 off with a talent show, which will be followed by live music, Juneteenth Awards, poetry readings, Trip Giveaways to Las Vegas, cash prize raffles and more.


Enjoy a weekend’s worth of happenings in the state capital. The Illinois State Museum hosts a Noir Art Exhibit (June 16), plus there’s plenty of fresh-air activities like a parade, fun run and outdoor revival in Comer Cox Park.

While visiting in Springfield for Juneteenth festivities, head over to the Illinois State Museum on Friday, June 16 for the highly-anticipated opening of the annual art exhibit called, Noir 3, which is curated by Alyssa Farmer and Korbin "Kas" King and is a celebration of Black culture and creativity. The event will kick off the Juneteenth weekend celebration with Juneteenth, Inc., and will be followed up by the Free-ish Block Party on Edwards St.