Juneteenth, also known as Independence Day or Freedom Day, is a holiday that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans on June 19, 1865.
In the 156 years since, Black communities have marked June 19th as a day to gather together, celebrate their culture and heal. Juneteenth has also become a day for others to reflect on how they can support Black communities and Black-owned businesses, and to learn about the history of Juneteenth.
Clara Peoples, a Kaiser Shipyard employee, introduced the celebration to Oregon in 1945. Portland recognized the celebration in 1972 and the State of Oregon followed suit in 2013.
National Holiday Becomes Official
This year, the U.S. federal government officially recognized Juneteenth as a national holiday.
“Throughout history, Juneteenth has been known by many names: Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, Liberation Day, Emancipation Day, and today, a national holiday,” said U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris during a White House event to mark the day’s official recognition.
“As we commemorate the history of Juneteenth,” Harris said, “we must learn from our history and we must teach our children our history because it is part of our history as a nation.”
NUNM joins the U.S. federal government in officially recognizing Juneteenth, June 19th, as a national holiday. We encourage everyone in NUNM’s community to honor Juneteenth through service, healing, and celebration.
Celebrating Juneteenth in Portland
As COVID-19 restrictions relax, the Portland metro area will host a variety of in-person and virtual events this weekend. (The following list was compiled by EverOut/Portland.)
- Celebration of Black Lives: Join the Big Yard Foundation for a one-and-a-half-mile march through Portland’s historically Black neighborhoods from Peninsula Park to King School Park, where they will celebrate Juneteenth with speeches, food, music, and more.
- 2021 Juneteenth Oregon Celebration: Produced by PDX Jazz, the 49th annual Juneteenth Oregon celebration will be livestreamed from the Jack London Revue. The event will include performances by Amenta Abioto, Parisalexa, and Cool Nutz, and DJ Fatboy, plus special appearances by artist/activist/educator Mic Crenshaw, Governor Kate Brown, and Senator Jeff Merkley.
- Juneteenth Teach-In: The Past, Present, and Future of Albina: The Albina neighborhood was home to Portland’s thriving Black community for generations before urban planning the “renewal” initiatives pushed its inhabitants, businesses, and cultural institutions out. Join the Albina Vision Trust in a virtual lecture as they discuss the area’s rich history, present dilemmas, and how to get involved in shaping its future.
- Vend Again Juneteenth Makers Market: Black woman-owned Vend Again Marketplace will host its first outdoor market in celebration of Juneteenth at the newly opened Honey Latte Cafe. Peruse unique jewelry, body-care products, and clothing while enjoying good music, food, and raffles.
- Drip Market: Portland’s Black radio station The Numberz and Your Morning Drip present Drip Market, with four blocks of Black vendors offering vintage, resale, food, art, and music. Attendees are invited to join the live broadcast and submit a playlist, and the radio station will have exclusive merch to celebrate Black Music Month.
- Beyond Black Presents: Juneteenth Festival: East County nonprofit Beyond Black hosts this celebration of freedom featuring food, vendors, and a live show at Vance Park.
- 4 The Culture Block Party: Food, music, artists, and vendors will pack this block party celebrating Juneteenth and Black culture. The Billy Webb Elks Lodge is a historic landmark within Portland’s African American community, and proceeds from the market will benefit the venue’s renovations.
- Juneteenth BIPOC Skate Hang: Brown Girl Rise and Rose City Rollers are sponsoring this event at Gateway Discovery Park. Free skate rentals are available for BIPOC youth ages 7-17, and a meal and snacks will also be provided.
- Juneteenth – Celebrate Freedom: The City of Lake Oswego and community group Respond to Racism (RTR) will present an afternoon program at Millennium Plaza City Park, Lake Oswego, with remarks by RTR President Willie Poinsette, Lake Oswego Mayor Joe Buck, and city council member Massene Mboup, with a keynote by community activist Antoinette Edwards. Musical performances by DJ Denmark, Randal Wyatt, Conscious Ave, Julianne Johnson-Weiss, and Alex Addy, and poetry by the RTR Youth Empowerment Committee. The event will also provide an open-mic space and kids’ activities.
- Juneteenth Pride Party: This queer dance party featuring BIPOC performers and allies will be presented by nonprofit Sweethearts of Portland at Local Lounge. The event will have ASL interpretation and proceeds will go to Brown Hope in support of the Black Resilience Fund. (SOLD OUT)
- Juneteenth 2021 Film Fest: Albina Vision Trust is hosting a film festival highlighting the Black community in Portland at two evening screenings. The program will also be available as a free livestream. From the organizers: “Portland Juneteenth is credited to Clara Peoples, the ‘Mother of Juneteenth,’ who started larger celebrations in 1945 while working at the Kaiser shipyard.”
Please celebrate safely. Be mindful of cultural appropriation, perform privilege checks, and be respectful of the historical significance of Juneteenth.