Maplewood and South Orange Announce Juneteenth 2021 – A Week of Celebration

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From the Maplewood Division of Arts & Culture

In 2020 Governor Murphy declared Juneteenth an official New Jersey state holiday, and now that it is safe to gather again, the sister towns of Maplewood and South Orange will join together to celebrate, collaborate and educate the community on Juneteenth and the week leading up to it.

Juneteenth — also known as Freedom Day — has been a tradition in the United States for more than 150 years and marks the date, June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers freed the last remaining slaves in Texas, enforcing the Emancipation Proclamation, two and half years after it was originally issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. Participation in Juneteenth celebrations grew throughout the years as descendants continued traditions in Texas and, as African-Americans in the South migrated across the country, Juneteenth celebrations began appearing in cities across the nation.

Juneteenth 2021 – A Week of Celebration kicks off on Sunday, June 13th with “A Celebration of Black Poetry, Music & Art” at Yale Street Corner in Maplewood. Opening day features poetry readings from local poets of the “Black Lives Matter Poetry Project,” live music, art kits, and craft vending from black-owned businesses. A series of live and virtual events are planned throughout the week including, a conversation of 4 black mayors of New Jersey discussing the history and importance of Juneteenth, a flag ceremony, an interactive exhibit with Marc. A. Gaston, and a pop-up shop.

On Saturday, June 19th festivities begin with “Coloring Juneteenth: A Collaborative Storytime” for families on the Jefferson Elementary School front lawn, followed by “Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom” exhibit at Durand Hedden House. The week concludes with “Juneteenth Freedom Day!” – a jamboree with performances, poetry, live music, dancing, BBQ and Beer Garden at Floods Hill.

As we continue to educate ourselves on the rich history of Black Americans in our country, Juneteenth provides a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate this day of liberation and our country’s second Independence Day.  A day when Black Americans were given their freedom from Slavery.  

For the first time, Maplewood and South Orange will formally celebrate Juneteenth and extend its recognition and celebration for a full week while also continuing our efforts to stand and fight for justice and equality for all Americans.” Mayor Frank McGehee, Maplewood.

President Collum echoes the importance of shinning a light on Juneteenth in South Orange and Maplewood, “The intension of the week-long Juneteenth celebration is to bring awareness to this very important date in our country’s history commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. So many local groups have come together to collaborate, educate and celebrate black-owned businesses, Black Lives Matter Poetry, black residents, authors, and artists, and it represents so much more—equal rights and freedom! Please join us as we learn and celebrate the liberation, empowerment and transformation of our black citizens, made possible with their emancipation on June Nineteenth = Juneteenth.”

Family-friendly festivities have been planned and organized by local groups including SOMA Action, SOMA Community Coalition on Race, MAPSO Youth coalition, Springfield Avenue Partnership, and a special collaboration by the Maplewood Arts Council Black Lives Matter Poetry Project.


A Celebration of Black Poetry, Music & Art
June 13, 12pm, Yale Street Corner
Springfield Avenue Partnership,
Maplewood Arts Council 

Turning Pages: A Book Talk on Juneteenth
June 14, 4pm, Virtual
South Orange Public Library

Juneteenth Flag Ceremony
June 14, 4pm South Orange Av at Irvington Av
NAACP Orange & Maplewood, South Orange Village, Maplewood Township

Juneteenth In Stories
June 15, 3pm, SOPL Garden
South Orange Public Library (SOPL)

Black Mayors Discuss Juneteenth,
Its History and Importance Today
June 16, 7:30pm, Virtual
Maplewood Township, South Orange Village

Envisioning Freedom: Using History & the Arts to Explore Black Liberation
June 17, 6pm SOPL Garden & Zoom
SOPL, The Digital Citizenry Project, Community Coalition on Race, SOMA Justice

The Socially Relevant Art of Marc A. Gaston
June 17, 7pm, Virtual
SOMA Action Racial Justice 

Juneteenth Pop-Up Shop
June 18, 6pm, 13 Jefferson Ave.
YMCA South Mountain, African American Employee Resource Group (AAERG)

Juneteenth Book Display & Bookmark
Month-Long, Maplewood Memorial Library


Coloring Juneteenth: A Collaborative Storytime
June 19, 10am, Jefferson Elementary School
MAPSO Youth Coalition, Division of Arts & Culture, Robert J Miller Foundation

A Celebration of Freedom and Exhibit
Re-enactments, Performance Art, Displays

June 19, 11am – Durand-Hedden House
Durand-Hedden House & Garden, South Orange Village, Maplewood Community Coalition on Race,
Maplewood Arts Council


June 19, 6pm – 9:30pm Floods Hill
South Orange Village, Gaslight South Orange,
Maplewood Arts Council

Maplewood Black Lives Matter Poetry Project + BLM Poetry Pop-ups

The Maplewood Black Lives Matter Poetry Project, a project of the Maplewood Arts Council, has filled Maplewood this year with the beauty and energy of poetry, with mounted banners throughout the town that display powerful poems by black writers both world-acclaimed and local. 

BLM Poetry Pop-ups: 

Come hear BLM poems spoken in the voices of SOMA poets and actors!  

  • Sunday, June 13, 12:45pm, Yale Street Corner on Springfield Avenue
  • Saturday, June 19, 12:15, 1:30pm, Durand-Hedden House & Garden
  • Saturday, June 19, Floods Hill



Durand-Hedden House & Garden

Maplewood Arts Council

Maplewood Department of Community Services
Maplewood Division of Arts & Culture

Maplewood Library

Maplewood Township

MAPSO Youth Coalition

SOMA Action Racial Justice

SOMA Community Coalition on Race

SOMA Justice


South Orange Public Library

South Orange Village

Springfield Avenue Partnership


African American Employee Resource Group (AAERG)
A Paper Hat

The Digital Citizenry Project

Express Yourself Studios

Gaslight South Orange

HLS Juice Bar & Grill

Le Petite Academy

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP Oranges & Maplewood)

Robert J Miller Foundation

South Mountain YMCA


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