It’s a new day at the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP). In September 2021, the museum appointed Dr. Ashley Jordan as president and CEO, a 37-year-old curator and professor of African American studies who most recently served as senior director of development at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.
In February, the museum added Nina Elizabeth Ball, a highly regarded multitalent (poet, writer, spoken-word artist, arts curator and educator) known as “Lyrispect” as director of programming and education.
Both Jordan and Ball envision expanding the reach of Philly’s circa-1976 African American history and art museum beyond 7th and Arch streets and into the city’s cultural life. Their first big step: AAMP’s biggest-ever Juneteenth block party that Ball describes as, “a star-studded event that is very, very Philadelphia.”
The free event will border the building on two sides, with Black-owned food trucks occupying a lane of Arch Street out front, and a full-on festival in the parking lot out back. Those stars include Talib Kweli, Lady Alma, poet Black Ice (who’s flying in from Amsterdam and performing an original piece on the Derrick Adams exhibition Sanctuary, for the occasion), magician Ran’D Shine, and DJs. There will be oversized Connect Four, Jenga and UNO, a pair of murals to help paint, local, multi-generational Black craft makers vending their wares, and free admission to the museum itself.
Like last year, AAMP is partnering with Wawa Welcome America, the umbrella group that produces Fourth of July fireworks shows and the free concert on the Ben Franklin Parkway, as a kickoff to the multi-day Independence Day.
But, really, AAMP might not need the extra help: Its Freedom Day block party will be just one of many celebrations across the city. Juneteenth 2022 is shaping up to be Philly’s biggest — ever.
JUNETEENTH FOR KIDS
Smith Memorial Playground had dubbed this season’s first Kidchella as Juneteenth. The early-evening concert for very little kids features Afro-Caribbean Troupe Da Da and child-centered songstress Ms. Niki. The giant wooden slide will be open, and there will be plenty of other places to play and to do arts and crafts, on Friday, June 17 from 4 to 7:30pm. Tickets are $12; $6 for Smith members and ACCESS cardholders. 3500 Reservoir Drive
Freedom Day coincides with Father’s Day, so dads and dad figures get in free to the Please Touch Museum. On June 19 from 11am to 4:30pm, the mini kiddie city hosts Juneteenth storytelling, performances by West Philly H.S. band and majorettes, and Kente cloth craft-making. Admission is $22 for non-dads and $2 for ACCESS cardholders. 4231 Avenue of the Republic
JUNETEENTH IN GERMANTOWN
Germantown’s Juneteenth Festival begins at 10am on Saturday, June 18, with freedom yoga by Sankofa Healing Studio at the Johnson House Historic Site, continues with a 1pm panel discussion on stemming the loss of generational wealth in Black and Brown communities at the Mennonite Historic Trust (6133 Germantown Avenue), and culminates in an afternoon festival at the Johnson home, a former Underground Railroad, noon to 4pm. All events are free. 6306 Germantown Avenue
JUNETEENTH FOR SHOPPERS
Curator Debora Charmelus convenes 30 Black makers, artists and vendors for CADO: Black Arts Fair & Makers Market, a ticketed pop-up shopping experience that benefits the North Philly Peace Park. Go to support up-and-coming Black businesses, but also to experience the old, huge PECO Factory — now called Power Market — on Saturday, June 18 from noon to 6pm. You’ll find handmade candles, jewelry, clothing, perfume, beauty, books, prints, paintings, journals — and so much joy. Tickets are $10 at the door, also available online. 19th Street and Oxford Avenue
JUNETEENTH IN WEST PHILLY
Philly’s other major Freedom Day celebration takes place across the Schuylkill. West Philly’s Juneteenth Parade & Festival includes a parade from 52nd and Parkside at 10am on June 19, a community festival in Malcolm X Park from 10am to 8pm, and a just-for-kids carnival with fair activities like face-painting and games, noon to 4pm at 46th Street and Girard Avenue. All free.
JUNETEENTH AT OLD CITY MUSEUMS
The Museum of the American Revolution previews its 2023 exhibit Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia through guided neighborhood walking tours at 11am and 3pm on June 18 ($10). Throughout the long Juneteenth weekend (June 18 through 20) the museum has pop-up talks about Revolutionary-era African Virginians and a discovery cart of replicas of objects 18th-century Black soldiers used. Tickets are $19-$21 for adults, $18 students, military, teachers and seniors, $13 ages 6-17, $2 ACCESS cardholders, free ages 5 and under. 101 S. 3rd Street
The National Constitution Center waives admission from 10am to 5pm on June 19. Once you’re in, you can catch a performance of The Four Harriets, exploring the lives of Harriet Robinson Scott, Harriett Tubman, Harriet Jacobs, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, visit the exhibit Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality, and, for kids and other creatives, author and illustrate your own Black history book. Free. 525 Arch Street
Juneteenth at the African American Museum in Philadelphia | Wawa Welcome American Photo / Joseph Kaczmarek