Celebrate Juneteenth with us, from President Eric Pryor

A Celebration of Freedom.

All PAFA facilities - studios, museums and college - will be closed on Monday, June 20th in honor of Juneteenth.

Dear PAFA Community:

As we turn as a nation to commemorate the Juneteenth holiday, I am mindful of those who paved the way for us to get to this national celebration. I think about Opal Lee. Affectionately known as the Grandmother of Juneteenth, the then 89-year old-activist, Lee walked 1,400 miles from Fort Worth to Washington D.C. in an effort to get national support to make Juneteenth a federally recognized holiday. Five years later, in 2021, Lee was there to witness President Joe Biden sign the proclamation that officially made Juneteenth a national holiday. That same year, Wawa's Welcome Back America - a Philadelphia tradition - expanded its Freedom to Liberty event to run from Juneteenth to July 4th. Today, 47 states including the District of Columbia recognize Juneteenth as an official holiday and have statewide celebrations.

In 2020, one year before it became a federally recognized holiday, our VP of Human Resources and Title IX Coordinator, Dr. Lisa Biagas, pushed PAFA to adopt Juneteenth as an institution wide holiday. This is just one way PAFA remains steadfast in our commitment to our core values of diversity and inclusion. The celebration of Juneteenth is a celebration of African American freedom and achievement. We encourage our staff, faculty, and students to participate in local and national Juneteenth events. Below is a compilation of Juneteenth resources and celebration guides that have been gathered by the members of The Office of Institutional Safety (OISE).


Eric G. Pryor

President and CEO

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth, or June 19, 1865, is a powerful moment in Black history.  It commemorates the effective end of slavery in the United States. While the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation legally declared all enslaved persons free, it took another two and a half years before notice of Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation 95 reached the over 250,000 enslaved women, men, and children in Galveston, TX. The message that formerly enslaved persons received that day granted them freedom but also clarified that they had “absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property.”  Upon hearing this message, Black women, men and children celebrated their freedom. This is how Juneteenth was born. Juneteenth, Emancipation Day or Jubilee Day has been celebrated every year since 1865.

Learn More

Meet Opal Lee, The Grandmother of Juneteenth:

Proclamation on the Juneteenth Day of Observance, 2021 —Presidential Actions

Read More. Learn More.

"Weaving together American history, dramatic family chronicle, and searing episodes of memoir, Annette Gordon-Reed’s On Juneteenth provides a historian’s view of the country’s long road to Juneteenth, recounting both its origins in Texas and the enormous hardships that African-Americans have endured in the century since, from Reconstruction through Jim Crow and beyond. All too aware of the stories of cowboys, ranchers, and oilmen that have long dominated the lore of the Lone Star State, Gordon-Reed―herself a Texas native and the descendant of enslaved people brought to Texas as early as the 1820s―forges a new and profoundly truthful narrative of her home state, with implications for us all."



The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth


The Root: Why is Juneteenth Important for America 


Juneteenth Explained


So You Want to Learn About Juneteenth


Local and National Events

Take a Black History Tour of Philadelphia

Visit Philly Guide to Juneteenth Celebrations in Philadelphia

African American Museum in Philadelphia’s Juneteenth Block Party

African American Museum in Philadelphia Events

Wawa Welcome America Freedom Festival

CNN Don Lemon Hosts a Juneteenth Broadcast

The National Museum of African American History & Culture Live Events

Support Local Black Businesses

 60+ Black Owned Businesses in Philadelphia to Support this Juneteenth 

Last Updated
June 17, 2022 - 11:47 PM

About PAFA

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the fine arts, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and a world-class collection of American art. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.