Celebrate Juneteenth in the Seattle area! It’s an annual event remembering the emancipation of slaves in the United States, and now it’s an official state holiday in Washington.
Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, freeing the slaves in the Confederate states. Union soldiers made their way through those states sharing the good news. Soldiers reached Texas (their final stop) on June 19, 1865, two years after the proclamation was made.
After hearing that slavery had been abolished, the former slaves of Texas celebrated with dance, songs and prayers.
Here are some things to do to celebrate Juneteenth around the Seattle area:
Northwest African American Museum (NAAM)
June 12 to 19
Celebrate with NAAM all week long with virtual events, storytelling, artist exhibits and more.
Wednesday is Youth Night at NewHolly Field, with the RAVE Foundation and Sounders FC joining in a celebration of two new, turf mini soccer fields. There will be food vendors, soccer activities and more.
NAAM’s African American Cultural Ensemble will sing the Black National Anthem and National Anthem at Sounders and OL Reign games on Saturday, June 18, at Lumen Field.
A Juneteenth celebration, “Skate to Freedom Party & Community Day” is set from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday (June 19) at Judkins Park. There will be a free skate party, Black-owned vendors and food trucks, family friendly activities, music and more.
Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI)
“Black Love: a Form of Resistance”: 1-3 p.m. Saturday, June 18. Delbert Richardson will hold a special storytelling session geared towards middle- and high-school students, and adults but open to all. Limited space available, register early.
Also, the award-winning travel history display, “The Unspoken Truths,” is at MOHAI through Wednesday, June 22. It uses artifacts, storyboards and the art of storytelling to look at American history through an Afrocentric lens.
This health-focused event is set for 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday (June 19, 2022) at Rainier Beach Community Center, 8825 Rainier Avenue South. There will be food trucks, vendors, cultural performances and community resources.
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission last year added Juneteenth as a free-admission day in state parks, saying, in part, “The new designation reflects a commitment among state lands agencies to promote diversity, equity and inclusion as core values.”
King County Library System will hold its second annual Juneteenth Commemoration from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 18, in the outdoor plaza next to the Tukwila Library. It will feature books, resources, speakers, performers and more. KCLS also provides a Juneteenth reading list, with stories that celebrate the richness of Black American culture, heritage, legacy and freedom.
More things you can do …
- Honor the day by cooking traditional foods – go Southern or celebrate with a red drink (a traditional symbol of perseverance). Many celebrate by drinking strawberry soda.
- Read to your children about the history of slavery and about social justice. Choose books about heroes of the era, such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth.
- Support Black-owned businesses.
- Check with your local community to find celebratory gatherings, protests, meditation walks and speaker engagements.
- Remember and reflect on American history while thinking of how far we need to go for equity and equality.
Check out the Seattle’s Child Calendar for more events.
This story was first published on June 14, 2021.