Celebrating African-American Freedom & Achievement

On May 13, Governor Inslee signed into legislation House Bill 1016, designating Juneteenth (June 19) as a state legal holiday, effective June 19, 2022. The legislation reads, “The legislature encourages that this be a day to engage in fellowship with Black/ African Americans; revisit our solidarity and commitment to antiracism; educate ourselves about slave history; and continue having conversations that uplift every Washingtonian.”

History

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom, Jubilee or Liberation Day, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. The executive proclamation declared that all slaves were free in 1863 however, word of the proclamation did not reach the enslaved black people of Texas until June 19, 1865 when Union army soldier General Gordan Granger announced it upon his arrival in Galveston, Texas:

"The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor. The Freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere."
- General Order No 3, by order of Major-General Granger

Since that time Juneteenth is recognized nationwide. Over the decades, celebrations have evolved from local parades and picnics into civic and outreach events connecting the African-American community to resources and celebrating African-American achievement. To learn more about the history of Juneteenth, listen to Annette Gordon-Reed talk about her book "On Juneteenth" in this recent interview on NPR

Celebrating Juneteenth

There are several activities happening in Kitsap and at the Library to bring attention to this historical moment in Washington state:

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