Performer at TONE Juneteenth Festival. | Noah Stewart

Celebrate Juneteenth in Memphis

On a national level, Juneteenth just became a federal holiday in 2021, but in Memphis, we’ve been celebrating it for as long as I can remember. 

Memphis is the epicenter for culture and history. The hub for music, food, and soul. Between our grit n’ grind, you will find our heart, and in our roots you will find out that African American culture and Memphian culture are intertwined.

So, why celebrate Juneteenth in Memphis? 

We celebrate Juneteenth out loud, from Beale St. to Orange Mound. Playing music by Black artists, hosting festivals that drip in red, black, and green, the smell of barbecue gracing the air, and the memories we get to create that last us a lifetime. 

Memphis, the city that gave us Beale St. where we had the liberty to exercise Black creativity through music; giving birth to rock n’ roll, home to the blues, and the expansion of hip hop culture that has given us so many of our favorite artists. 

So if you don’t listen to me and know why you should spend Juneteenth with us, then listen to Louis Armstrong as he sang in Beale Street Blues, “I’d rather be there than anyplace I know.”

Boutique, Luxury, Brand Names . . .
Find Your Dream Hotel
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Juneteenth is the day that African American slaves were finally made free, it’s the day we get to honor the struggles and the victories of those that came before us.

That’s why Memphis is the perfect place to commemorate Juneteenth. We get to take pride in being the city that houses the first community that was built for and by African Americans. The community of Orange Mound, or as we like to call it “The Mound” and in the Mound Juneteenth is celebrated through remembrance and excellence.

Memphis, the most beautiful land in the world.

We celebrate with intentionality, so you can bring your family and friends to celebrate with you. Our culturally congruent spaces are here so that you can be surrounded by the past, present, and future of African Americans, to truly honor those that came before us as we look ahead to a brighter future. 

So why celebrate Juneteenth in Memphis; the real question is why not Memphis?

A group dancing and cheering on performers at Tone Juneteenth Gala
Performers on stage at TONE Juneteenth: A Family Reunion
Couple at the Tone Juneteenth Gala
Violinist at TONE Juneteenth Gala.

Memphis Juneteenth Events

TONE Juneteenth: A Family Reunion

Each year, TONE hosts a weekend-long celebration of Juneteenth, entitled Juneteenth: A Family Reunion, to call the community back home. The intention is to acknowledge those who have paved the way for us today and who have given us the capability to dream for our tomorrow. Last year, we went from the MET to the MOUND at their Gala, followed by an afterparty on the Mississippi Riverboat, and all leading up to their Juneteenth Festival.

This year will be no different: the four-day weekend full of events includes: a screening of B.A.P.S, spades tournament at Inkwell, themed GALA and afterparty, leading up to their Juneteenth Festival with celebrity headliners Project Pat, Duke Deuce, Hitkidd, and more. For updates, tickets, and more information about their Juneteenth festivities follow TONE on their Instagram page at: TONE MEMPHIS. 

Memphis Juneteenth Festival

The City of Memphis is hosting their annual two-day Memphis Juneteenth Festival with food, fun, and festivities. To find out more about their Juneteenth celebrations, visit their website: Memphis Juneteenth Festival

Juneteenth the Musical Stage Play 

The Orpheum Theatre has orchestrated a play telling the story of what it was like in Galveston, Texas, once the slaves received news of their freedom. For more information and tickets to the play, visit their website: Orpheum Memphis

Juneteenth Shop Black Festival

At the Juneteenth Shop Black Festival there will be live music, food, and the opportunity to shop with local Black vendors. For more information about the Juneteenth Shop Black Festival you can go find them on their socials:

A Juneteenth Celebration

Prizm Ensemble is inviting each of us out to celebrate Juneteenth through music. Music has played such a large role in African American culture, and was a key way for slaves to express their joys, sorrows, hopes, and dreams. To find out more information about their free concert, you visit their website: A Juneteenth Celebration

Juneteenth Douglass Freedom & Heritage Festival

Juneteenth has long been celebrated in Memphis. Take it from the Juneteenth Douglass Freedom & Heritage Festival which turns 30 this year.  Join them in Douglass Park for two days of free music concerts, great food, and local vendors on June 17-18, 2023. Overton Park Shell will also unveil the new mobile shell concert stage.

Experience Memphis' Rich Black Heritage & Culture

While you’re here you may as well extend your visit past the festivities and really get a taste of what Memphis is all about. 

After you celebrate Juneteenth with us, I encourage you to patronize the spaces we’ve created to stamp our history and who we are today:

Stop by the National Civil Rights Museum where you can explore the events that took place in the Civil Rights Movement and get the chance to be in the Lorraine Motel, our reminder that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived and died for the equality and livelihood of African Americans. 

Want to learn more about Memphis music? The Stax Museum is the only place in the world dedicated to the history and conservation of Stax music and real American soul. 

Don’t forget to start your morning off with a cup of cxffee at Cxffeeblack, where your cxffee is served with history, as you read, “Don’t Forget! Coffee was built on Black & Indigenous Slave Labor” on the walls. 

Memphis is known for a lot of things, especially our food, and not just barbecue. Here are a few of the Black owned restaurants in our city, that I’d love for you to try out:

Celebrating Juneteenth is what brought you here, but our culture is what’s going to keep you here. 

About the Author

Hey guys, I’m Carmen Monèt. I am a native Memphian who got into journalism with one purpose: to provide a voice and a platform for those often overlooked. I hope that my writing inspires you to experience the culture of Memphis.