Juneteenth in the OKC Metro

What is Juneteenth?

Despite the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the 250,000 enslaved people in the Confederate-controlled state of Texas were not aware of their freedom until two years later on June 19, 1865. That date became known as “Juneteenth” in Texas. Since then, it has become an annual celebration of freedom for African Americans. It is a recognized holiday in 47 out of the 50 states and in Washington, DC. In Oklahoma, State Representative Jason Lowe introduced legislation to declare June 19th as a state holiday in 2020.

For some Americans, Juneteenth has been widely known and celebrated. But until recent years, many were unaware of this annual celebration. This year there are many ways to learn about and celebrate Juneteenth as a family.


Family Education

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” –Maya Angelou

A starting point for incorporating Juneteenth into your family’s calendar of celebrations is by learning about its place in history and its significance. Stop by your local public library and pick out books about Juneteenth to read together as a family.

There are also some excellent family-friendly online resources that are available to explore together.


Like most major holidays, food is a centerpiece of Juneteenth celebrations. There are many ways for your family to create and share a Juneteenth meal. Traditional Juneteenth meals include red-hued foods, desserts, and beverages. Red is symbolic of the resilience of the enslaved people. Juneteenth feasts can include foods such as barbeque, cherry pie, and strawberry soda. Other traditional meal items include soul food—macaroni & cheese, collard greens, and fried chicken.

This year I asked our youngest to come up with a list of red food items that we could incorporate into our celebration. Her list included: strawberries, tomatoes, cherries, red cabbage, fruit punch, and red velvet cake—a favorite dessert of her late grandmother.

Our final menu for our Juneteenth celebration includes barbecued ribs, hot dogs, hot links, and chicken grilled by dad, our resident grill master, and our son, his sous chef. Our middle daughter will contribute to the meal by making her specialty: “cheesy mac and cheesy” (yes, it’s loaded with cheese). I will be making a strawberry salad and collard greens. And for fun, our youngest and I will round the meal out with a kid-friendly take on the red velvet cake: red velvet cake pops!


This year there are also opportunities for your family to celebrate Juneteenth with other local families and friends.

Juneteenth on the East – Saturday, June 15, 2024
Take the whole family to this family-friendly event happening on 23rd Ave., between North Kelham Ave. to North Hood St. From 3:00 PM – 9:00 PM you’ll enjoy live music, performances, live mural painting, spoken word, food trucks, and a variety of vendors. 

Celebrate Juneteenth at Southern Oaks Library – Saturday, June 15, 2024
Celebrate Juneteenth at Southern Oaks Library from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM. Children can attend a special Storytime provided by Thick Descriptions in the children’s area. Attend a Poetry Reading provided by poets from the Society of Urban Poets in Oklahoma City. There will also be tables from community partners, crafts, and a scavenger hunt! All ages are welcome to attend and no registration is necessary.

Juneteenth Music & Arts Festival – Saturday, June 15, 2024
The free event at Washington Park, 400 N High Ave., OKC will feature live entertainment from Twista, Metropolitan School of Dance and Marlee, along with vendor booths and the Perry Publishing & Broadcasting Company Music Awards.  It’s all happening on Saturday from 10am-7pm. 

Juneteenth Celebration: “Honor, Reflect, and Celebrate!” – Tuesday, June 18, 2024
The Oklahoma Historical Society will celebrate Juneteenth with a free program at the Oklahoma History Center on Tuesday, June 18, from 5 to 8 p.m. Enjoy music, special speakers, and a book signing. 

Norman Juneteenth Fesitval – Wednesday, June 19, 2024
The 4th annual Norman Juneteenth Festival is in Reaves Park from 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM. This family friendly event brings together vendors, games, food trucks, education, live entertainment, fireworks, and more for a night of celebration and community! 

Do you know of other Juneteenth celebrations in the OKC Metro? Let us know via email at info {at} okcmom.com.

Originally published in June 2021. Updated June 2024.

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Christina Mushi-Brunt
Christina and her family moved to SW OKC from Indiana in 2014 . She married her high school sweetheart 18 years ago and they have three kiddos: son, (15) and daughters (12 and 9). She is a former college professor/public health researcher turned PTA president/dance mom. She has a heart for public policy/advocacy work, particularly in areas affecting children, marginalized and vulnerable populations. Her family’s mission statement is “Love God; Love Others.” As a family they volunteer together often, enjoy traveling, and hold impromptu dance challenges in their living room.


    • This year the celebration will be Saturday and Sunday, June 18-19. Last year the organizers were With Love, OKC, but I’m not sure if they are the organizers again this year!


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