Below, check out some of the nightly shows.
Bill Bev Defoe hit the stage and made nearly everyone in the audience dance. Behind the scenes, anchors Leslie Jones and Amanda Sells lead along the group’s song “Poison.”
Ne-Yo followed the ’90s with a high-energy performance of “Give Me Everything” and got the audience singing along with it.
And yes, Beyoncé was making a cameo in a pre-recorded clip on Opal Lee, the 95-year-old activist who worked to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. (More on me below).
Country music phenomenon Mickey Gayton covered Marvin Gaye’s protest anthem “What’s Going On” and sang her original Grammy-nominated single, “Black Like Me.” The poet Amir Suleiman performed a touching clip with a message to the viewers: “You will be the predecessor of one of them. Act accordingly.”
CNN’s Sarah Seidner stated before the show that the entire creative team behind the party is Black, including creator Shawn Gee of Live Nation Urban and Jesse Collins Entertainment. Tonight was also the first time an all-black orchestra, the Re-Collective Orchestra, played in the Bowl, Siddner said.
The Re-Collective Orchestra was accompanied by members of the Debbie Allen Dance Company, who provided a vibrant dance piece (and performed by Allen herself).
Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021, but many black Americans have honored that date for years with parades, parties, and family gatherings. The holiday is also an opportunity to reflect on the persistent systemic inequalities that black Americans face.
“Time to celebrate, time to educate, time to act,” Biden said.
Vice President Kamala Harris also appeared in a recorded message, as did former First Lady Michelle Obama, who invited viewers to vote.
Jill Scott delivered a spoken word piece called “Thriller: Definition No. 3” on stage, talking about the pain of watching systemic changes fail to pass. She finished her performance by silently raising her arms.
Honoring Concert “Jeddah Juneteenth”
Americans should spend the holiday celebrating, learning, and continuing to advocate for change, Lee told me.
“I’m calling for a celebration from June 19 to July 4,” she said. “who – which You will celebrate freedom.”
Gospel stars Mary, Anthony Hamilton, and Michelle Williams, first known for singing with Destiny’s Child, escorted audiences to church at the end of the night with inspiring solo performances. The four performers then concluded the show together on a high note and sang the song “Optimistic”.
CNN’s Harmit Kaur and Chloe Millas contributed to this report.