It took more than two years for news of the Emancipation Proclamation to reach slaves in some parts of the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Grander and his soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas and read from a general order to enslaved Texans announcing their freedom. The newly freed slaves of Galveston celebrated the announcement, marking the origins of the first Juneteenth. Over the years the holiday spread around the nation with local communities adding their own local traditions.
That said, it’s been more than four decades since Clara Peoples, the ‘Mother of Juneteenth,’ brought the holiday to Oregon and, today, Juneteenth celebrations are peppered across the state each year. Throughout the month of June, organizations around Portland are hosting Juneteenth events and even daily summer camps to mark the anniversary.
The annual Juneteenth celebration was started by Portland community leader Clara Peoples 45 years ago. Although Peoples passed away in 2015, the event still continues as one of the largest Juneteenth events in the Pacific Northwest. The Juneteenth Independence Day Celebration will take place on June 15, from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
The celebration will begin with the Clara Peoples Freedom Trail Parade including Samuel Thompson as this year’s Grand Marshall. The parade will start at the Safeway located 5920 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The parade route will continue south along MLK, turning west on Russell Street and ends at Legacy Emanuel Hospital Field at Russell street between North Vancouver and Williams, where live musical performances, food vendors, arts, crafts, recreational areas for children take place.
The annual ‘Juneteenth: Words Along the Way’ celebration is happening June 16 at 3 p.m. The community is invited to enjoy a performance with words and music by PassinArt: a Theatre Company to commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation arriving in Texas. The event will take place at the North Portland Library located at 512 N Killingsworth St. Due to limited space the event is first come, first seated.
Friends of Albina Art Center (FAAC) is hosting a Father’s Day Celebration on June 16, at the Dismantle, Change, Build center located at 14 NE Killingsworth St. to honor Portland artist and activist Isaaka Shamsud-Din. It will be the official launch of his calendar ‘Juneteenth: Celebrating the History & Culture of African American and African Diaspora People.’ Entertainment is scheduled from 12 p.m. – 9 p.m. and will include an outdoor market featuring local artists and vendors, and live musical performances, a video interview between FAAC founder Bobby Fouther and Isaka Shamsud-Din, calendar signings and more.
Additionally, FAAC will host ‘Tea at 3’ designed to connect artists and members of the local community at the Albina Arts center, uniting the center’s historic past with the contemporary artists, educators and social activists in the Portland community. The event is free and donations are encouraged. For more information contact Bobby Fouther at email@example.com.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival is hosting its annual Juneteenth celebration on Monday, June 17. This year’s theme is ‘Jubilee: Celebrate the Shift’ “encouraging Rogue Valley residents to reflect on our individual stake in the ever-present conversation of race, gender, ethnicity, ability, class religion and nationality.” The celebration opens with a JET Gala Display in the Black Swan lobby beginning at 10 a.m. A Juneteenth play reading, directed by Robert Goodwin, will take place in the Thomas theatre at 11 a.m. Christiana Clark will host the Juneteenth Celebration Variety Show on the Courtyard stage at 5:30 p.m.
Both the reading and the variety show are sign interpreted. The event is free, however, cash donations are appreciated and encouraged. Proceeds from the event will fund future OSF Juneteenth events, the Juneteenth Scholarship fund, and youth programming focused on supporting members of the African-American diaspora. Seating is limited. Tickets will be limited to four per guest. Contact the box office at (541) 482-4331 for more details.
The annual Juneteenth Social Justice Art camp will take place Monday, June 17 through Saturday, June, 21. Children of all ages and skill levels are invited to attend this week of workshops to hone their creative skills and express themselves through their artwork. Programming is scheduled from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. Interested parties can learn more about daily programming, register for camps and volunteer online. Space is limited and early registration is recommended. For more information, contact Don't Shoot PDX.
The Rockwood neighborhood in Gresham is hosting its first East Multnomah county Juneteenth celebration on June 19 from 2 p.m. – 10 p.m. The free event will include free food, musical performances and a barbecue cook-off. A fireworks show will begin at sunset. Rockwood's Juneteenth celebration will be held at Vance park located at 1400 S.E. 182nd Ave.
The Vancouver NAACP will host a Juneteenth celebration at Clark College on June 22, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. This year’s Juneteenth theme is ‘Together We Rise.’ As stated in a release, the celebration organizers chose this theme because it "addresses the idea that together we rise above the fray of hatred, despair, and discord. We join unified to work towards cooperative economics and purpose for our race, community, and nation."
A live panel discussion with Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny, community educators and law enforcement officials is scheduled for 4 p.m. The event also includes a diversity career fair and a racial justice awards ceremony. The Juneteenth celebration will take place at Clark college, located at 1933 Fort Vancouver Way in Vancouver, Washington. For more details about the event and volunteer opportunities contact Carol Collier, NAACP job fair chairperson, at (503) 880-5807 or via email at NAACPVancouver@gmail.com.