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WNC celebrates Juneteenth with film screenings, block parties and storytelling

The YMI Cultural Center will host a Juneteenth block party.
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The YMI Cultural Center hosts a block party on Wednesday, June 19.

This Wednesday, Western North Carolinians will celebrate Juneteenth, a federal holiday to commemorate the emancipation of slaves throughout the former Confederate states.

Some folks in WNC have celebrated the holiday for decades, while in other places, the holiday has gained more steam in recent years after federal recognition in 2021.

Many public offices, including Buncombe County and the City of Asheville, will close for the holiday.

Find a listing of Juneteenth events in the region this month. All events are free to attend unless marked otherwise.

Tuesday, June 18  


  • Taste traditional Juneteenth foods and check out two documentary screenings – “Our America: Black Freedom” and “James Hemings: Ghost in America’s Kitchen” – at the East Asheville Public Library’s “Juneteenth Food & Facts” event, which runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. 
  • A lunch and learn focused on “First African American Families of Asheville and Buncombe County” will take place at the Dr. Wesley Grant Center from noon to 1:30 p.m. Historian Sasha Mitchell will take participants through the process of researching and preserving their own family history. 

Wednesday, June 19 


  • The YMI Cultural Center is hosting an all-day “Juneteenth on the Block” party from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The festivities will culminate in an evening gathering at The Foundry’s Workshop Lounge, with heavy hors d'oeuvres and drinks.
  • Gospel singer, historian and educator Mary D. Williams will visit Black Wall Street AVL to deliver a speech on the topic “From Slavery to Juneteenth Jubilee” from 12 to 2 p.m. 
  • The Getaway River Bar is hosting a Juneteenth Jam and Cookout from 6 to 11 p.m. The 21+ event will include music from DJ Nex Millen and the Reggie Headen Band, guest speakers and a visit from Turk Da Jerk soul food food truck. All proceeds will benefit local nonprofit My Daddy Taught Me That. 


  • The Mary C. Jenkins Community and Cultural Center hosts a film screening. Doors open at 5 p.m. 


  • At 10 a.m., Ridgeview Branch Library will host “Freedom Day Storytime,” a community-led Juneteenth story time including music, dancing and crafts. 

Old Fort


  • Head to Bridge Park for a family-friendly Juneteenth and Pride cookout from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The event will feature free barbecue mains, plus ive music from Nyeeman Soulsayer & Soulsayer’s Source and a speaking program by Marie Cochran of the Affrilachian Artist Project. 

Thursday, June 20  


  • Community activists Anita White and Sophie Dixon will discuss the history of the various African American neighborhoods in Asheville and how gentrification has diminished their presence. This takes place at the Burton Street Recreation Center from noon to 1:30 p.m.
  • Enjoy an African attire fashion show, live music, drinks and appetizers at the Juneteenth Gala. The “tie or no-tie” event runs from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Stephens-Lee Community Center

Friday, June 21 


  • This month’s Downtown After 5 outdoor concert will have a Juneteenth theme, with live music from Lyrics and Sierra Green & The Giants. There will also be crafts, food and other goods available from local BIPOC vendors. The event runs from 5 to 9 p.m. on North Lexington Avenue. 
  • As a part of a lunch and learn, Dr. Sharon West and Kelly White will chair a panel on “Early African American Health Care & Today’s African American Inequities” at Temple-Avery Montford Community center from noon to 1:30 p.m.. They will discuss how the history of the African American communities' medical mistrust can be overcome. 

Saturday, June 29 


  • Bring your own chair for the “Junebration” event at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is hosted by the Black History Collective of Henderson County and will feature live music from Kia Rice, Jewel Ward and Alyeh Cady.
Laura Hackett joined Blue Ridge Public Radio in June 2023. Originally from Florida, she moved to Asheville more than six years ago and in that time has worked as a writer, journalist, and content creator for organizations like AVLtoday, Mountain Xpress, and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. She has a degree in creative writing from Florida Southern College, and in 2023, she completed the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY's Product Immersion for Small Newsrooms program. In her free time, she loves exploring the city by bike, testing out new restaurants, and hanging out with her dog Iroh at French Broad River Park.