Juneteenth exhibits created by the Suffolk County Historical Society Musuem are on display in...

Juneteenth exhibits created by the Suffolk County Historical Society Musuem are on display in the lobby of the Dennison building in Hauppauge. Credit: Office of the Suffolk County executive

Long Islanders will mark Juneteenth, which honors the end of slavery in the United States, with education seminars, concerts and cultural festivals across the region.

Juneteenth, or June 19, celebrates the arrival of Union troops in Galveston, Texas, in 1865 — two months after the end of the Civil War — to announce to slaves that they were free. The day, which will be observed by governments and school districts on June 20, has turned into both a celebration and a call for racial and social justice.

Suffolk, which adopted Juneteenth as a holiday for county employees last year, will feature work from local artists and historic displays in the lobby of the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge through June 24. The county also will host a virtual discussion Friday night on the history of the holiday and its significance to local youth.

The county's signature event, its Juneteenth Jubilee, will be held in the Dennison Building on June 20. The event, which is expected to be attended by State Attorney General Letitia James, will feature musical performances, an awards ceremony and food trucks run by Black chefs.

“While Juneteenth has traditionally been celebrated by the African American community, it is important that all Americans come together to recognize what this holiday represents and what it stands for,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in a statement. 

The Southampton African American Museum will host a Juneteenth program on Friday at 6 p.m. with author A’Lelia Bundles, whose great-great-grandmother, Madam C.J. Walker, was a pioneer in the Harlem Renaissance.

The Suffolk Theater in Riverhead will mark the holiday on Sunday at 7 p.m. with a concert by Grammy-nominated artist Brian Owens, who will cover Marvin Gaye, Al Green and Sam Cooke. Tickets start at $49.

The Town of East Hampton will mark Juneteenth on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. with the official renaming of an Amagansett park after Lt. Lee A. Hayes, who lived in the area and was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the all-Black pilots who served in World War II.

Additional Juneteenth celebrations include a street festival in Wyandanch and a comedy show at the Arts Project of Cherry Grove, both on Saturday at noon, and a walking tour detailing the stories of Black families in Northport on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Nassau will host a Juneteenth community and employee family reunion at Eisenhower Park at 4 p.m. on Friday followed by a Motown concert at 7 p.m. 

Democratic county lawmakers and local civic groups will present their Juneteenth celebration on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Eisenhower Park. The event features comedians, music, food and local vendors.

Also on Sunday at noon, Black Legacy Partners, a networking group for Black business owners and artists, will host its second annual Juneteenth cultural festival at the Hicksville Long Island Rail Road station. The event includes African drumming, exhibits, food exhibitions and live music. Admission is free.

Elmont also will host its second Juneteenth celebration on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the parking lot of 14 Village Ave. with live performances, food and games for young children. The event is free.

The Town of Hempstead, which recognizes Juneteenth as a paid holiday, will host its celebration Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at Senior Councilwoman Dorothy L. Goosby Plaza. The event, which was held virtually the past two years because of the pandemic, features musical performances, lectures, dance and poetry readings and a flag raising.

Juneteenth became a paid holiday for state employees in 2020, and President Joe Biden last year signed legislation declaring it a paid holiday for federal employees.

In Nassau, however, it is not a paid holiday for county employees.

"It is time for Nassau County to join with neighboring municipalities that have recognized the historic importance of Juneteenth by making it a holiday for employees," said Legis. Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury), who has sponsored legislation to add Juneteenth to the county's list of paid holidays. 

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said paid holidays were subject to negotiations through collective bargaining with labor unions.

"Coming out of years of budgetary pressures we would have to seriously consider the financial impact of another paid holiday," Blakeman said.

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