What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth of Buffalo may be one of Buffalo’s longest running and best attended summer festivals, but its name and historic origins may still be a mystery to many Buffalonians and potential visitors.


Juneteenth marks the end of slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday. It dates to the spring of 1865 and the end of the Civil War when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas and announced that all enslaved people should be freed. Spontaneous celebrations broke out among newly freed Black people and Juneteenth was born. In years to come, Juneteenth commemorations featuring music, barbecues, prayer services and other joyful activities spread throughout Texas and the rest of the United States.

About Juneteenth of Buffalo


In Buffalo, Juneteenth has been commemorated with a festival every year since 1976. It’s held in and around Martin Luther King, Jr. Park near the intersection of Fillmore and Best Streets. It’s highlighted by a parade, musical performances, food vendors and cultural activities showcasing the diversity of talent found in Buffalo’s Black community. Juneteenth of Buffalo is considered one of the largest in the United States, with hundreds of affiliated events and activities taking place and thousands of attendees participating in all the fun.


Juneteenth of Buffalo brings together every aspect of Black Buffalo, says event organizer, Jomo Akono. According to Akono, it’s an annual opportunity for Buffalo’s Black community to come together, uniting people from different backgrounds, religions, neighborhoods in solidarity. Juneteenth is more than just a summer festival, it is a celebration of shared ancestry, shared struggle, shared culture and shared heritage.


Juneteenth and the initiatives surrounding it expand and repair relationships, bridge culture gaps, and unite the Black community, Akono told LISC Western New York.

When is Juneteenth of Buffalo?


In 2024, Juneteenth of Buffalo will be held June 15th and 16th in Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.


Finally, it’s important to note that on June 17, 2021, Juneteenth became an official Federal holiday.