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Photo by Jerry Foster / The Skanner News Archives
By Christen McCurdy | The Skanner News
Published: 14 June 2018

June 19 marks the day – more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation became effective – that Union soldiers read a general order announcing the end of slavery in Texas.

In Galveston, formerly enslaved people rejoiced and began celebrating in the streets after hearing Union General Gordon Granger read aloud from General Order No. 3. One year later, freed Texans celebrated again and a new holiday – Juneteenth – was born.

During the Great Migration, writes Isabel Wilkerson in The Warmth of Other Suns, "The people from Texas took Juneteenth Day to Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, and other places they went."

Clara Peoples moved from Muskogee, Okla., to Portland in 1945 to work in the ship yards, and started asking around to find out if there was a local Juneteenth celebration – only to discover some of her coworkers had never heard of it. She decided to take on the job of starting a Portland celebration – one that continues to this day, though Peoples passed away in 2015.

She’s now the namesake of Portland’s annual Juneteenth parade – the Clara Peoples Freedom Trail Parade – which will take place from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. June 16. The parade will start at Safeway at NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and Ainsworth and head south on MLK to Russell, then west on Russell to Legacy Field.

The parade kicks off this year’s Juneteenth Oregon Celebration, which takes place at Legacy Emanuel Hospital Field. The celebration runs from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and include local music, food, retail vendors and a kids’ area.

And in advance of those events, on Thursday there will be a Miss Juneteenth Oregon pageant at 6:30 at Billy Webb Elks Lodge for a $10 entry fee.

For more information about the pageant, parade and festival visit the Juneteenth Oregon Facebook page.

Other upcoming Juneteenth celebrations include:

  • Freedom Summer Juneteenth Art Camp. This camp takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, June 18-22 at Pacific Northwest College of Art, 511 NW Broadway. This camp, a partnership project of Don’t Shoot Portland and PNCA, features art making for all ages and ability levels. To register to attend or volunteer, visit here.
  • Juneteenth: Words Along the Way. North Portland Library will commemorate Juneteenth with words and music by PassinArt from 3 to 4:30 p.m. June 17 at the North Portland Library, 512 N. Killingsworth. For more information, visit the library's website.
  • Free to Read: A Juneteenth Celebration. This event takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. June 17 at the Kenton Library, 8226 N Denver Ave. Eva Abram of Rainwater Storytelling will share a story about Charles Mitchell – a story of of slavery in the Northwest. There will be crafts, books, giveaways and light refreshments. For more information, visit the library's website.
  • 2018 Juneteenth Celebration in Vancouver. This event will take place from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. June 23 in Hannah Hall at Clark College, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver. This celebration, hosted by Ruby Lewis and the Vancouver NAACP Branch, includes a bouncy house, free hamburgers and hot dogs for kids, face painting, a children's craft doll table, a job fair and pie contest. There will also be a live panel discussion, “Where Do We Go From Here: Ending and Erasing Systemic Racism,” featuring Clark County government officials, police department, City of Vancouver officials, and representatives from Vancouver and Evergreen Public School Districts. For more information, visit the event page.
  • Oregon Shakespeare Festival Juneteenth Celebration. In Ashland, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival will host its annual Juneteenth Celebration starting at 10 a.m. June 18. The day’s activities include a variety show, a play reading, a tribute to the late actor G. Valmont Thomas and a roundtable discussion. All events are free or pay what you can, donations will be accepted for the Juneteenth Scholarship Fund and future Juneteenth celebrations.

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