6. Celebrate Juneteenth in Seneca Village (Seneca Village, Central Park)- June 19th 10am-2pm

An interpretive sign at the Seneca Village site in Central Park.
Historical marker for Seneca Village in Central Park. Image courtesy of Central Park Conservancy

Before Central Park was created in 1858, Seneca Village (between West 82nd and West 89th Street) was home to a predominantly African-American community. Soon before Central Park came to fruition, the village was complete with a school for African-American students, churches, homes, and even burial grounds. Residents were able to own property which meant that some could vote, per restrictive property voting requirements at the time. This self-sufficient community was displaced by eminent domain in order to build Central Park, but its legacy will be celebrated on the grounds on which it existed this Juneteenth. 

The public Juneteenth celebration at Seneca Village will feature musicians, storytellers, and other performance artists. Percussionist Abdou M’Boup from Senegal will welcome attendees with a performance on various percussion instruments. On the site where “Colored School #3” once stood, banjo player Ayodele Maakheru and Grammy award nominated spoken-word artist Gha’il Rhodes Benjamin will tell stories and play music. Where Seneca Village’s African Union Church once stood, poet Marilyn Nelson will read her poetry while interpretive dancers bring her words to life. To celebrate the life of Andrew Williams, who secured his right to vote through property ownership in Seneca Village, tap dancer DeWitt Flemming, Jr. will perform a commemorative dance. Other events will include sculpture, harp music, and spoken word poetry. No reservations are required. More information can be found here.