Announcing Staten Island’s Inaugural Juneteenth Freedom Festival

Historic event to be held at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden

June 9, 2021 | Staten Island, NY – Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden will host the inaugural Juneteenth Freedom Festival on Staten Island, which was organized by over fifty Staten Island-based organizations coming together to observe Juneteenth.  The free community event will be held on Saturday June 19, 2021, at 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM throughout Snug Harbor’s historic grounds on 1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, NY 10301. To register for Juneteenth, visit

“Snug Harbor is proud to celebrate Juneteenth and grateful to our community partners for organizing this historic event with us,” said Martha Neighbors, Interim President & CEO, Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden.  “Juneteenth is a reminder to not just celebrate emancipation, but to set new goals for community connections and growth.  Come join all Staten Islanders to celebrate this milestone in United States history, and our vibrant future.”

This event will be the first celebrated in Staten Island since Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation designating Juneteenth as an official public holiday in New York State on October 14, 2020. Ed Josey, President, Staten Island Branch NAACP said, “The most important feature of this event is the knowledge people will gain about Black History…this could be an important step in introducing our community to the importance of learning… and understanding our great history.”

Also known as Freedom Day, Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when the news of liberation came to Texas more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863. African Americans across the state were made aware of their right to freedom on this day when Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston with federal troops to read General Order No. 3 announcing the end of the Civil War and that all enslaved persons were now free, as well as to maintain a presence in Texas for the purpose of enforcement of emancipation among slave-owners throughout the state. 

Juneteenth has special significance for Staten Island, which is the home of Rossville’s Sandy Ground Community, the oldest continuously inhabited free Black settlement in the United States.  Juneteenth programming is for the entire Staten Island community, as Juneteenth is part of American history.  Recognizing how special this event is for Staten Island, Ron Gregg, President, Black & Minority Chamber of Commerce stated “The Juneteenth celebration … [is] coming to Staten Island on an Island wide scale. For years we have saluted this event but this year a coalition of organizations intent not just to celebrate the word but also the concept of emancipation. Let the spirit of ancestral slaves who learned that they had been emancipated emanate throughout this festive day.” 

Juneteenth attendees can expect to experience:

– Historical reenactments of the reading of General Order No.3 and the Emancipation Proclamation

– Performances from various artists, including Harambee Dance Company, WeJustWorkin, Karlus Trapp, Jeannine Otis, and a live Jazz performance from Sekou McMiller brought to us by the National Jazz Museum in Harlem

Fashion shows and pop-up exhibits

There will also be health screenings, wellness resources, merchants, and food vendors, workshops on small business development, personal finance, homeownership, education, and voter registration. Kids 8 and under will enjoy special dedicated activities, including the Staten Island Alliance for North Shore Children and Families’ Children’s Zone and the opening of the first Read in Color Little Free Library in New York City.  Admissions to the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, the Staten Island Museum, and the Noble Maritime Collection will be free all day.

Major funding for the event was received through Con Edison’s Arts Al Fresco initiative.  “Con Edison’s commitment to making the arts accessible to all New Yorkers is more important today than ever before. As New York recovers from the pandemic, we are pleased to support local artists and cultural organizations in our ‘Arts Al Fresco’ series. These free public events will connect New Yorkers to vibrant performing artists at outdoor venues and open spaces in our customers’ communities,” said Frances A. Resheske, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Con Edison.

Other funders of Juneteenth include:

Champion Sponsors: Community Health Action of Staten Island (CHASI)

Supporter Sponsors: Friends of Mariners Harbor,

Friend Sponsor: NYC Ferry, Staten Island NAACP

Staten Island community partners include:

369th Veterans’ Association, Abercrombie Art, African Refuge, Arthur Kill Press, Bait-ul Jamaat – House of Community, Brown Sugar Bliss, Canvas Institute, Central Family Life Center, City Belle Gardens, CUNY College of Staten Island, Curtis High School, DJ Tyson, Empowerment Zone, Inc., Frederick Douglass Memorial Park, Inc., Friends of Mariners Harbor, Gift of Experience, Harriet Tubman Purple Hat Society, Inc., Harambee Dance Company, H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths, HealthFirst, HERShot!, Hidden Pearls of Staten Island – Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Historic Tappen Park Community Partnership, Island Flavourz, Island Voice, Lambda Kappa Mu Sorority, Inc., Lambda Chapter, Little Free Library, Minority Women in Business Association, Inc., Muslim Sisters of Staten Island, National Council of Negro Women, Inc. – Staten Island, National Jazz Museum in Harlem, PAIGE ONE ASSIST: A Legacy Research Company, PS 59 Harbor View School, Richmond County Black & Minority Chamber of Commerce, Roc-A-Natural, Sandy Ground Historical Society, Sharing the Bliss, Silver Queen No. 43 P.H.O.E.S., Staten Island Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Staten Island Alliance of North Shore Children & Families, Staten Island Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Staten Island Black Heritage, Staten Island Children’s Museum, Staten Island Community Partnership, Staten Island Museum, Staten Island NAACP, Staten Island STRONG HBCU College Tour Team, True 2 Life, Universal Temple of the Arts, WeJustWorkin, You Grow Girl, YouthBuild IMPACT

About Snug Harbor

Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden is an urban oasis where art, history and nature converge. We offer dynamic programming in the arts, horticulture and agriculture for diverse communities and all ages, on our historic 83-acre campus. We envision being a locally impactful, globally renowned destination, true to our values of artistic vibrancy and community, inclusion and discovery, stewardship and conservation.

Snug Harbor is the result of more than four decades of restoration and development to convert a 19th-century charitable rest home for sailors into a regional arts center, botanical gardens and public park.  One of the largest ongoing adaptive reuse projects in America, Snug Harbor encompasses 26 historic structures, 14 botanical gardens, a 2.5-acre urban farm, wetlands, forests and park land on a free, open campus.  Snug Harbor is a proud Smithsonian Affiliate organization. Learn more at

Download this press release as a PDF here.