Celebrating Juneteenth 2021


SFUSD is joining the world in celebration of Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Cel-Liberation Day, which commemorates June 19, 1865: the day when U.S. General Gordon Granger and Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas and read General Order No. 3 that the enslaved Black people were now free.

Juneteenth celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while also encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. In San Francisco public schools, educators celebrate the achievement of our African American and Black students every day, and strive for our schools to be welcoming and safe learning environments that empower each and every student to thrive in a changing world. Anti-racist practices are part of SFUSD’s Key Approaches to education. This includes advocating against racist policies, practices, and beliefs in all aspects of how we teach, partner, manage, and lead and implementing approaches that are humanizing and responsive.

Juneteenth 2021 comes at a time as over 400 years of systemic oppression and underlying racism are at the forefront of national dialogue. Yesterday, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law to make Juneteenth National Independence Day a federal holiday. As conversations turn to action and our societies continue to evolve, SFUSD remains committed to creating a more just world through the way schools educate and nurture our most vulnerable children.

Founded in 2015, the African American Achievement and Leadership Initiative (AAALI) exists to provide opportunities, guidance and resources to African American students, families and educators. Through programs such as Black Star Rising, which provides summer STEM enrichment courses and access to internships; Freedom Academy, a Saturday program for eighth graders which serves as a pathway to Black Star Rising; and the Mastering Cultural Identity course, which provides middle and high school students with a culturally relevant, identity-based curriculum focused on historical and contemporary innovations, triumphs, and contributions of African Americans, AAALI has opened doors for SFUSD students in many new ways.

Earlier this month, we celebrated over 200 Black graduates from the Class of 2021 in the 2nd Annual SFUSD Black Graduation Rites of Passage Ceremony at Kezar Pavilion Stadium. Because of the pandemic and the recent changes in public health guidelines, this was the first time such an event was held in-person. The ceremony included performances and speeches by students and each graduate was presented with a special kente stole. SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, and other special guests were also in attendance to make remarks. Watch this segment from ABC7 News to learn more about the ceremony and to hear from a couple of our Black graduates from the Class of 2021.

Juneteenth is an important day to celebrate improvements but also to reflect on the work that presently requires our attention and resources. Juneteenth happened over two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, which serves as a reminder that even in moments of progress, justice is not restored without urgent, consistent effort.

In the words of political activist, philosopher, academic, and author Dr. Angela Davis, “Freedom is a constant struggle.”

Here are some Juneteenth celebrations in our community that you can attend this weekend:
  • Friday 6/18: 71st Annual Juneteenth Festival
    • 5PM-8PM: Fillmore Heritage Center
  • Saturday 6/19: Juneteenth - Black Family Reunion
    • 11AM-5PM: Fulton at Webster and the Fillmore Mini Park
  • Saturday 6/19: MegaBlack SF's Juneteenth at the Waterfront
    • 8AM - 2PM: Embarcadero Ferry Terminal Plaza
    • For the first time, we'll celebrate Juneteenth on the Embarcadero and the contributions of Black San Franciscans to the waterfront. AND you can still make it to SF Juneteenth on Fillmore! Entry is free and open to the public, and food will be available for purchase. Snag a 'Tasting Ticket' for a tasting from the multiple Black Chefs during the celebration. There will be music, dominoes and educational activities.
  • Saturday 6/19: Juneteenth at Bayview Opera House
    • 12:30PM-3PM: Bayview Opera House
  • Saturday 6/19: Black Creatives and Film Makers
    • 6PM-9PM: Musiquarium at Westfield San Francisco Centre
  • Sunday 6/20: Bayview Juneteenth
    • 11AM-5PM: Gilman Park