Here’s What You Can Watch, Hear And Celebrate On Juneteenth
Miss Juneteenth / photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment

There’s a first time for everything and this year’s influx of Juneteenth inspired films, music and programming signals a new beginning for several media and entertainment companies. From HBO streaming the first season of its timely Watchmen series—which centers its story on the aftermath of the Black Wall Street massacre—to Spotify dedicating their Times Square New Music Friday billboards to Black artists all day long, there’s a celebration for everyone.

Starting tomorrow, June 19, here’s how you can embrace, promote and honor Black creativity as well as tune into virtual conversations discussing the current state of freedom in Black America. Take a look at who and what we’ll be listening to and streaming for Juneteenth.

1. Miss Juneteenth

Commemorate the day slavery was abolished in Texas with the story of Turquoise Jones, a single mother and former beauty queen who is preparing her daughter, Kai, to be crowned as the next Miss Juneteenth. Directed and written by Channing Godfrey Peoples as her feature film debut, Miss Juneteenth made its world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and won a South by Southwest award. The film, starring Nicole Beharie, Kendrick Sampson and newcomer Alexis Chikaeze, is available in virtual cinemas, select theaters and on video on demand platforms like Apple TV, Prime Video, Google Play and more on June 19.

2. Spotify’s Black Lives Matter Playlist

Bring the party to your ears with Spotify’s flagship playlist “New Music Friday,” which will feature only Black artists for Juneteenth and Black Music Month. From June 19 to June 26, enjoy the tunes and beats of Black artists across various genres from hip-hop to pop to country on playlists like “Throwback Thursday,” which highlights Black music from the 1950s to now; “KING,” which celebrates Black men and fathers; “Black Lives Matter,” which features past and present songs of encouragement and so much more.

3. Red Table Talk: Juneteenth Episode

Sit around the red table with Jada Pinkett Smith, her daughter, Willow Smith and mother, Gammy, as they address the state of emergency within Black America. From racism to police brutality to cancel culture to the Central Park “Karens,” this episode of the Red Table, which airs on Juneteenth on Facebook Watch, is joined by civil rights activist Angela Davis and activist Tamika Mallory. The women of the Red Table will also be answering questions posted from the fans on Jada’s previous Instagram post.    

4. (In)Visible Portraits

Learn about the erasure and “otherizing” of Black women in America and celebrate their strength and courage in Oge Egbuonu’s directorial debut, (In)Visible Portraits. This inspiring, educational and thought-provoking documentary highlights the pain, resilience and beauty of Black women and aims to reclaim their voices. Egbuonu calls her film a love letter to Black women. Available for purchase on Vimeo On Demand on Juneteenth, (In)Visible Portraits has been glowingly reviewed by celebrities such as Academy Award-winning actors Colin Firth and Halle Berry. The film will later be released on streaming platforms like iTunes, Amazon and Roku, and a portion of the sales will be donated to human rights organizations.

5. VICE’s Black South Rising

Dive into the story of how Charlotte, North Carolina City Council member Braxton Winston is working to make his community more equitable for Black and brown people in the wake of the shooting of a Black man, Keith Lamont Scott, and massive protests in 2016. VICE’s Alzo Slade turns his lens on Winston and the rest of the Charlotte majority-minority leadership during their second term, following along as they tackle years of deep segregation and numerous police shootings. The VICE News video is available for free streaming on YouTube.

6. The Meeting: A play by Jeff Stetson, directed by Bill Cobbs

For one night only, enjoy the virtual performance of The Meeting, a 1987 play by Jeff Stetson. Set in 1965 in a Harlem hotel, the imaginary meeting between Martin Luther King and Malcolm X takes place at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. The performance, directed by Bill Cobbs and hosted by Affion Crockett and Kelly Jenrette, stars actors Ethan Henry as MLK, Bechir Sylvain as Malcolm X and Justin Chu Cary as Rashad, Malcolm X’s bodyguard. Register for the event for free (and donate to one of the listed organizations) and join the Q&A and panel discussion following the performance on June 19 at 5:30 pm PST (8:30 pm EST).

From left: The Meeting’s Ethan Henry as MLK, Bechir Sylvain as Malcolm X and Justin Chu Cary as Rashad, Malcolm X’s bodyguard. Photo courtesy of The Star Gazer Group

7. Pink Sweat$ new single, “Not Alright”

Turn up your headphones and tune in to “Not Alright,” the newest single by singer-songwriter Pink Sweat$. After his February love song release “17,” Pink Sweat$ gives listeners an inside look at how he’s feeling about the times and a small tease of what’s to come from his album The Prelude. The song’s chorus, supported by a catchy back beat and futuristic guitar chords, expresses his fight in a losing war: “I’m not alright, fighting a war that I’m going to lose. I’m not alright, I can’t do what they say I’m supposed to.” Stream the Juneteenth release of “Not Alright” by Pink Sweat$ on Friday.

Pink Sweat$ / photo credit: Atlantic Records

8. The Antonyo Awards presented by Broadway Black

The show must go on, and it will with the virtual ceremony of The Antonyo Awards, a night dedicated to recognizing the achievements of Black theater artists. Enjoy a pre-show virtual red carpet, original music numbers and star presenters and performers like Audra McDonald, Alex Newell, Kalen Allen, Amber Iman, Teyonah Parris and more. From actors to stage and company managers, The Antonyo Awards celebrate and honor the contributors of every role in Black theatre. Catch this exciting event on Broadway Black’s YouTube and Facebook pages on Juneteenth at 7 pm EST.

9. Keedron Bryant’s official single “I JUST WANNA LIVE”

“I’m a young Black man doing all that I can.” This is the emotional and powerful opening lyric from 12-year-old Florida native Keedron Bryant’s viral video “I JUST WANNA LIVE.” The original song, which he sang acapella and uploaded to YouTube, was written as a call for change in response to global protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Keedron’s soulfulness and passion have been shared across social media platforms by such celebrities as Lupita Nyong’o, LeBron James, Eva Longoria, Janet Jackson and even Barack Obama. His official single, heralded as the “soundtrack to a moment of revolution,” is produced by Dem Jointz and is set for release on Juneteenth, along with the announcement of Keedron’s newly minted deal with Warner Records.  

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I want to share parts of the conversations I’ve had with friends over the past couple days about the footage of George Floyd dying face down on the street under the knee of a police officer in Minnesota.⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣ The first is an email from a middle-aged African American businessman.⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣ “Dude I gotta tell you the George Floyd incident in Minnesota hurt. I cried when I saw that video. It broke me down. The ‘knee on the neck’ is a metaphor for how the system so cavalierly holds black folks down, ignoring the cries for help. People don’t care. Truly tragic.”⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣ Another friend of mine used the powerful song that went viral from 12-year-old Keedron Bryant to describe the frustrations he was feeling.⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣ The circumstances of my friend and Keedron may be different, but their anguish is the same. It’s shared by me and millions of others.⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣ It’s natural to wish for life “to just get back to normal” as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us. But we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly “normal” – whether it’s while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park.⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣ This shouldn’t be “normal” in 2020 America. It can’t be “normal.” If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣ It will fall mainly on the officials of Minnesota to ensure that the circumstances surrounding George Floyd’s death are investigated thoroughly and that justice is ultimately done. But it falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station – including the majority of men and women in law enforcement who take pride in doing their tough job the right way, every day – to work together to create a “new normal” in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts.

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10. NAACP conversation: “Our Platforms Our Power Our Politics

The dedicated civil rights organization enlists Angela Rye as the host of stirring conversation, “Our Platforms Our Power Our Politics,” around the importance of using your platform now more than ever, to not only shed a light on injustice but spark real change and action. Rye will be joined by Cari Champion, Jon Batiste, Kiana Lede, and more. Co-produced by Revolt TV, the discussion will be live-streamed on NAACP’s and Revolt TV’s YouTube channels. 

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