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Observe Juneteenth 2021 in DSM with Virtual + In-Person Events

Juneteenth 2021

June 10, 2021

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration that commemorates the June 19, 1865 announcement of the abolition of slavery in the United States of America. The first celebration of Juneteenth was in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865.

The Iowa Juneteenth Observance has been in existence for 30 years and was founded by Gary Lawson in 1990. After 25 years of service, Gary Lawson gave custodianship of Iowa Juneteenth to the Des Moines Urban Leadership.

On April 11, 2002 the Iowa Juneteenth holiday was made an official holiday. It is our desire at Iowa Juneteenth to promote the "spirit" of Juneteenth throughout the year.

2021 Juneteenth Events in DSM

In Greater Des Moines (DSM), city buildings and offices will be closed to observe Juneteenth as an official holiday. Juneteenth virtual and in-person events will take place across the state. Here are a few to check out in and around DSM:

Iowa Juneteenth Events

Iowa Juneteenth will hold events daily in DSM from Saturday, June 12 through Saturday, June 19. These events will include a walk in at the Iowa State Capitol, a Vaccination Clinic at Western Gateway Park, a showing of Road to Justice at the West Des Moines Amphitheater and more. Download the entire list of events or visit iowajuneteenth.org for more information.

Other Juneteenth Events

Virtual Events

African American Museum of Iowa

  • Youth Think Tank: Black History Challenge live-streamed from the Museum — June 12 from Noon to 3 p.m.
  • Virtual Events for All Ages — June 17-18
  • Juneteenth + Emancipation — Video presentation available from June 18-25

In-Person Events

*The Juneteenth + Emancipation video will be available through Friday, June 25.

Greater Des Moines (DSM) welcomes diverse talent to the region. As one of the fastest growing business communities, inclusion and attracting diverse talent in the workplace is a key strategy of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. Learn more here.

The Greater Des Moines Partnership calendar of events is a one-stop resource for activities taking place throughout the region. Find networking information for Greater Des Moines (DSM) businesses or events specific to Downtown DSM.

Dwana Bradley

Dwana Bradley is executive director of Iowa Juneteenth, chair of Des Moines Public Schools, owner of Iowa Urban Media and a teacher in the after-school program at Homes of Oakridge. She was previously a reading interventionist with DMPS and is also a graduate of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute.