Juneteenth is a celebration of the end of slavery in the United States. The custom originated in Texas, but has become a national celebration. Juneteenth is a recognition of the possibility of moral progress, and a repudiation of the moral failings of those who came before.
Statement by President Obama on the Observance of Juneteenth
On this day 145 years ago, the people of Galveston, Texas, received word from members of the Union Army that those slaves who remained captive were now indeed free. More than two years after President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the order read by Major General Gordon Granger made plain that the relationship between “former masters and slaves” would now be one of “employer and free laborer.”
General Granger’s pronouncement was one step in our continuing effort to perfect our union and live out the ideals of our Founders. While we know it would be many years before African descendants in America achieved the full rights offered through Lincoln’s proclamation, that day in Texas, former slaves were offered the hope of embracing the American Dream as their own.
This occasion, which became known as Juneteenth, is now celebrated here in America and around the world and is a time not only to celebrate the rich heritage and many accomplishments of African Americans in our country, but also a time to reflect on the common values and ideals that we share as Americans.
Our nation is stronger because of the generations of struggles for equal rights and social justice, and our culture is richer because of the contributions of African Americans throughout our history. This is why Juneteenth, while rooted in the history of a people, can be celebrated by all Americans.
From the Portland, Observer:
On Saturday, June 19, Portland will celebrate “Juneteenth,” a proud moment of freedom in American history.
Activities will begin with a “Freedom Parade” at 11 a.m. down Northeast Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard from Jarrett Street. This year’s Grand Marshall is Lew Frederick, Oregon State Representative, District 43.
The short parade ends at the grass field at 5125 NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, between Alberta and Sumner streets, where the annual Juneteenth Festival will take place from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. There will be delicious foods, musical artists, special guest speakers, arts and craft vendors, prizes, a play area for children, and much more.
At 1:00 pm, Portland Mayor Sam Adams will speak and introduce Portland’s new Police Chief Mike Reese, who will speak. Last year, Mayor Adams became the first Portland City official to ever participate in a Juneteenth event. Other speakers include Loretta Young, candidate Multnomah County Commission, Sable Scott, Miss Black Oregon 2010; and Frederick.
New this year, at 6 p.m., a spectacular gospel concert will be held with performances by a number of Portland church choirs and soloists. The festival is free to the public.