It is January 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation is in effect, freeing all enslaved people in the Confederate South and therefore putting an end to slavery in the United States. However, it took another two and half years before the last enslaved community in America was freed in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865 — now observed as Juneteenth. 

Juneteenth has long been celebrated in the African American community as a day of healing and advocacy for Black Americans’ advancement and progression. However, it wasn’t until 2021 that it was recognized as a federal holiday. 

Las Vegas has long been an instrumental ally of Juneteenth, which is for all Americans to participate, reflect, honor and memorialize. The destination is committed to honoring true freedom and uniting people — because Juneteenth is something to commemorate together. 

All of the Juneteenth excitement will kick off earlier on June 1, when the Juneteenth flag will be raised at Las Vegas’ Historic Westside Legacy Park. Featuring the red, white and blue colors of the American flag, the design features a bursting star over an arc, all meant to symbolize a new horizon of the opportunity and promise that lay ahead for all African Americans. The flag will also be raised at Las Vegas City Hall and Henderson City Hall on June 3 during ceremonies that will feature proclamation presentations. Las Vegas City Hall will also display an electronic representation of the flag June 15-19 from dusk to dawn.

Want to get the kids involved? Mark your calendar for Wednesday, June 12, for the Splash n’ Dash Family Pool Day hits the Doolittle Community Pool. There will be beats — so get those moves ready — plus prizes and treats from local food trucks. Who doesn’t want to splash around and enjoy Las Vegas’ June weather? 

Come join a wellness-focused gathering with the E.L.E.V.A.T.E. conference — and those letters translate to empowering lives, enhancing vitality and transforming economics. As the name implies, this uplifting occasion will educate and inspire, while speaking to physical health and wellness issues affecting the African American community. The event, being held on Thursday, June 13, also features a financial literacy component. 

Those seeking some exciting athletic action can look forward to the Jubilee Jam N’ Slam, a 3-on-3 adult basketball competition taking place at Lorenzi Park on Friday, June 14. This event honoring the athletic achievement of African Americans features 24 teams battling it out on the court at the beloved local park. 

All of these wonderful events above can be found at the Las Vegas Juneteenth Festival. It is a special, community-focused event that has been going on for 23 years. Held at the World Market Center — conveniently located between the Strip and Downtown Las Vegas — June 12-15 this year, the festival promises multiple days filled with spectacular performances and delicious food. For the music-minded, the Saturday, June 15 event will feature a lineup of artists including R&B singer and songwriter, J. Brown.

The city of Henderson, a suburb of Las Vegas in the southeast valley, will also offer a Juneteenth Festival on June 19. Held at the Water Street Plaza, the event features performers and a community vendor market.

As you can see, Las Vegas offers several ways to honor this significant happening. In between attending the special events, be sure to stop by some of the black-owned businesses in the destination — from restaurants and bars to boutiques and even a theater downtown, you’ll likely be close by one or more! And to gain even more insight about the Black community in Las Vegas, here’s a fascinating look at its historic roots and lasting legacy.