by Julian Baet
History of Juneteenth
Juneteenth is a commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19th, 1865, Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas where U.S. General Gordon Granger read General Orders No: 3: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” The Civil War had ended and the enslaved were freed.
This day was 2 years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which came into effect on January 1st, 1863. However, the Emancipation Proclamation did not instantly free enslaved people and was not effective in Texas, due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the order.
With General Lee’s surrender in April 1865 and General Granger’s arrival in Texas, these were key events to influence and finally overcome the resistance. In December of 1865, slavery in America was formally abolished by the 13th Amendment.
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of slavery ending in the United States. Texas was the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday in 1979. Today, 47 states recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday, and Governor Jay Inslee declared Juneteenth as an official, paid holiday in Washington starting in 2022.
Here are a few local events where you can celebrate Juneteenth in Seattle. Enjoy this holiday as a day of celebration and education, with a variety of activities and opportunities available for recreation, healing, wellness, and more.
Presented by: Nile’s Edge
MLK Jr. Memorial Park, 2200 Martin Luther King Junior Way South, Seattle WA 98144
Come join a guided walking meditation, where participants are invited to experience reflection, grounding, and spiritual awareness around Juneteenth and the resilience of Black people in America. This event is hosted by Nile’s Edge Healing Arts, focused on de-colonizing health and education so that under-served communities can holistically flourish.
Presented by: It Takes a Village
Othello Park, 4351 S Othello St., Seattle WA 98118
This joyful and educational Juneteenth event brings people together in a safe and welcoming space to celebrate the Black community, learn about the Black experience, and provide in-depth education on Juneteenth history. Come to make valuable connections with others while discussing knowledge, perspective, and ideas.
The event will feature food, local artists, community services, history lesson, and more!
Presented by: Northwest African American Museum and Rec’N The Streets (Seattle Parks and Recreation)
2300 S Massachusetts St, Seattle WA 98144
The Juneteenth Jamboree presents a variety of family fun activities and recreation events including live performances, engagement with local sports teams, food, and more! You can RSVP for the event here.
Presented by: Blackout Healing
Yes Farm: 727 Yesler Way, Seattle WA 98104
Hosted at Yes Farm, this Juneteenth event is a kick back and healing ritual. The drop-in space is from 2:30-6pm, where participants are welcome to enjoy art, farming activities, or bring a picnic blanket to sit and connect. At 6pm, a healing ritual will be hosted by Victoria Santos.
RSVP to Mary at [email protected] if you would like dinner and to attend the healing ritual.
The Associated Recreation Council (ARC), in partnership with Seattle Parks and Recreation, serves Seattle by offering a variety of recreational and lifelong learning programs, classes and activities.