In the 21st century, Congress passed The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act in June 2021, a day after the Senate passed the bill with unanimous consent. Our current President Joe Biden signed the bill into law on June 17 – just two days before Juneteenth three years ago. Every year on June 19th our nation and state now recognize the liberation of our enslaved ancestors with the holiday JUNETEENTH.
History tells us all about President Abraham Lincoln issuing the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, during our nation’s civil war. This proclamation declared “that all persons held as slaves’ within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” And yet some 250,000 enslaved Black men, women, and children – young and old, we’re still being held in bondage in Galveston Texas over 2.5 years after January 1, 1863. Thus, being a rebellious state, armed Union troops, some of whom were Black, under Major General Gordon Granger were needed to uphold the law when General Order #3 was read, which declared all slaves there were free on June 19, 1865.
Since 1865 many Blacks have gathered to celebrate our nation’s second independence for all. This celebration has been occurring continuously around this country since 1865 with the first celebration being in Galveston, TX. But not all Americans knew, including some Blacks until they became aware through historical and racial equity activism surged. A living advocate amongst many is Ms. Opal Lee who over the decades pressed for Juneteenth Recognition commemorating our history, hope, and freedom. Therefore, it is fitting that the efforts of Ms. Opal Lee, a native Texan, petitioned her state as the first to celebrate Juneteenth as a state holiday. Our US American history is for all to know continues with the knowledge that after some more months in 1865 the 13th Amendment was added to the US Constitution outlawing slavery late into the 19th century.
Today here in Oregon, you’re invited to join the various Juneteenth Celebration activities during our 2023 holiday weekend Saturday June 17th through Monday June 19th the Holiday below.
- Portland Lillis Albina Park Annual JUNETEENTH Oregon Celebration: 6/17 & 6/18 – parade, rivalry, and unity for all freedom lovers (https//juneteenthor.com)
- Bend Drake Park Juneteenth Central Oregon Celebration: Discovering Our Roots all two days 6/17 & 6/18, then movie night 6/19. Host Father’s Group non-profit (www.juneteenthcentralor.org)
- Portland Expo Center Monday 6/19/23 at 3pm: 8 Seconds Black Rodeo This Juneteenth, come celebrate the history of Black rodeo at the Expo Center in Portland, Oregon (www.8secondsrodeo.com)
- Salem Willamette Heritage Center Monday 6/19/23 at 10am “In Freedom’s Footsteps: Juneteenth Community History Walk” (www.willametteheritage.org)
You can find more listed Juneteenth Celebrations at the Oregon Black Pioneers website.