Island businesses and nonprofit organizations are joining forces this year to celebrate the newest federal holiday, Juneteenth, with a weekend filled with art, music and lectures by leading scholars of black history.

Sponsored in part by the Vineyard Gazette Media Group, Juneteenth Jubilee on Martha’s Vineyard will kick off on Friday, June 17 with a screening of the film Jubilee, Juneteenth and Thirteenth and wrap up Sunday, June 19 when Dunmere Cottage, a historic guest house in Oak Bluffs, is added to the MV African American Heritage Trail.

Long celebrated by the black community, Juneteenth (short for June 19th) marks the day in 1865 when the enslaved people of Texas formally gained their freedom, effectively ending slavery in the United States. Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021.

Inkwell Haven LLC, which owns Dunmere Cottage, Narragansett House and the Inkwell Beach House in  Oak Bluffs, celebrated the first Juneteenth event last year and has organized several weekend events this year.

On Saturday evening, Nikole Hannah Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who created the 1619 Project for The New York Times, will speak at the Tabernacle, followed by a Juneteenth Jubilee Creative Festival featuring actress Lynn Whitfield and sponsored by Inkwell Haven with the MV Camp Meeting Association as co-sponsor.

Panel discussions are planned for the Martha’s Vineyard Museum and the Vineyard Preservation Trust’s Carnegie Heritage Center, Island libraries and other destinations.

Historical archaeologist Dr. Cheryl Janifer LaRoche, will discuss the maritime equivalent of the Underground Railroad — documented cases of slaves obtaining freedom at sea, while UMass professor Barbara Krauthamer, a Vineyard seasonal resident and co-author of Envisioning Emancipation Black Americans and the End of Slavery, plans to highlight the connection between struggles for equality in the past and present, particularly given the many racial justice demonstrations on the Island in the summer of 2020.

“[It] is depressing in a lot of ways that we’ve been having the same struggles for centuries,” Ms. Krauthamer said in a phone interview with the Gazette. “But I also think there’s something really powerful and inspiring in many generations’ commitment to freedom, to equal rights, to safety, to political engagement.”

Early Juneteenth celebrations were intellectual as former slaves gathered to chart a path forward with their newfound freedom, Ms. Krauthamer said. But another aspect was cultural as people dressed in their finest clothes for the joyous occasion.

“Knowing that you have a history of beauty and cultural wealth, that’s important to acknowledge and celebrate,” she said.

On Sunday, the Edgartown Yacht Club is hosting a gospel brunch featuring soloist Athene Wilson. The schooner Shenandoah will sail to and dock at the Yacht Club during the brunch.

Coordinating the many activities planned for Juneteenth Jubilee has fallen to Skip Finley, the Gazette’s director of sales and marketing, who said the weekend is a chance to explore new research about the Island’s involvement in the abolitionist movement and maritime escapes from slavery.

“What are those stories that gave those people the hope and the faith to survive, so there would be people like me here today? Well, it was these stories that we didn’t know about,” Mr. Finley said.

But he said the event is also an opportunity to support local businesses.

“They do all the painting and landscaping getting ready for the madding crowds to come here, and then nobody shows up for another month,” Mr. Finley said, referring to the buildup to Memorial Day weekend. “Now, directly in the middle of that, there’s a three-day weekend event…so that’s going to be a huge economic benefit to the Island.”

A schedule of Juneteenth Jubilee events is available at