Santa Monica celebrates Juneteenth

The Rev. Shawn Amos sings a joyful blues

Since 1866, June 19 — or Juneteenth, a portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth” that commemorates the day in 1865 that the emancipation of slaves in the former Confederacy was announced — has been celebrated as the end of slavery in the United States.

This year, the city of Santa Monica celebrates the historic day of abolition on Saturday, June 16, with a jubilant festival in Virginia Avenue Park.

KJLH Radio’s Bigg PWee emcees a day of performances, including reggae by Island Rhythm Production, soul and R&B by the Cal Bennett Ensemble, a reenactment of one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic speeches by Gerald Rivers, and music by blues artist The Reverend Shawn Amos.

Kids can play games, get their faces painted or make crafts in a “Kids Korner,” while dads and friends can play ping-pong, chess and other games in a “King’s Court” celebrating Father’s Day. Food trucks Peaches’ Smokehouse, Wings ‘N Waffles and Kona Ice also roll up to the park, alongside a vibrant cultural arts marketplace.

— Christina Campodonico

Juneteenth happens from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday (June 16) at Virginia Avenue Park, 2200 Virginia Ave., Santa Monica. Free.