On Saturday, June 20, in hundreds of cities across the U.S., tens of thousands of revelers will be celebrating Juneteenth, an important moment in American history.
In Portland, the celebration will start with a Freedom Parade at 11 a.m. down Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, between NE Jarrett and NE Knott streets.
The parade ends at Jefferson High School at N. Killingsworth Street and N. Commercial Avenue, where the annual Juneteenth Festival will take place from 12:30 to 9 pm. There will be delicious food, musical artists, special guest speakers, arts and craft vendors, prizes, a play area for children, and much more.
Although President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862, it was not until June 19, 1865 -- more than two years later -- that freedom came to the last enslaved Americans in Texas.
As an added event this year in Portland, Juneteenth organizers joined the Oregon Lincoln Bicentennial Committee to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln with a re-dedication of the Lincoln statue in downtown Portland's Park Blocks at SW Jefferson Street.
A special ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. at the statue, and feature an appearance by Miss Black Oregon 2009 and well-known Lincoln impersonator, Steve Holgate.
"While Portland's Juneteenth celebration may be small and not yet as prominent as in most other cities," said Doris Rush, Juneteenth committee chair, "we still believe that everyone should be exposed to the debt owed to Black people for providing more than 200 years of free labor, and join in celebrating our freedom as Americans."
Sponsors of this year's activities include Wells Fargo Bank, Neil Kelly Co., the City of Portland's City African-American Network (CAAN), and some private donors. The public and businesses are invited to participate as a sponsor or vendor, or contribute to help subsidize participation costs for non-profit organizations that provide diverse assistance and support to the community.
For more information, visit www.juneteenthpdx.org.