Juneteenth commemorates the abolition of slavery in the state of Texas on June 19, 1865. President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation three years earlier, but it was not until the surrender of General Robert E. Lee that ended the American Civil War. Still a rural frontier, it would take another three months for the Union Army to arrive in Texas and announce the total emancipation of slaves in the state. Juneteenth was pivotal throughout the former Confederate states—where the larger populations of African Americans were enslaved—in ending slavery in the United States.
Whether you know it as Freedom Day, Emancipation Day, Liberation Day, Jubilee Day or Juneteenth, Washington’s Lottery stands with all who bear witness to this historic day and celebrate the emancipation of everyone who was once enslaved in the United States. KNKX and Washington’s Lottery encourage all Washingtonians to learn more about our state’s newest holiday through the events and resources below.
Here’s how some regional arts and civic organizations are celebrating and commemorating Juneteenth:
Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra presents a Juneteenth recognition event on June 19 at 7:30 p.m. with a live streamed concert featuring the premiere of a new work SRJO commissioned from seven-time Grammy winner Christian McBride. He was the undisputed star of SRJO’s 2016-17 concert season, and is recognized as one of the greatest bassists of our time. He is a dominant contributor to the New York jazz scene, the host of NPR’s national weekly show Jazz Night in America (heard Fridays at 7 p.m. on KNKX), and a leading figure on today’s international jazz stage with such groups as Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center and the bands of Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, and Chick Corea, plus his own fabulous trio that has repeatedly thrilled audiences at sold-out concerts in Seattle. The June 19 concert will feature an exciting variety of compositions by maestro McBride, selected from his three most current, award-winning albums.
At the Port of Seattle, Juneteenth is sponsored by Blacks in Government (BIG), an employee resource group. Blacks In Government was organized in 1975 and incorporated as a non-profit organization under the District of Columbia jurisdiction in 1976. BIG has been a national response to the need for African Americans in public service to organize around issues of mutual concern and use their collective strength to confront workplace and community issues. BIG's goals are to promote equity in all aspects of American life, excellence in public service, and opportunity for all Americans. The Port of Seattle chapter of Blacks In Government was established in 1993, and currently has a membership of more than 70 Port employees.
Washington State Historical Society encourages you to join us in celebrating with one of their many partners who preserve the history of Black Americans and Washingtonians, including:
Northwest African American Museum (see below for information about Virtual Juneteenth Week)
You can connect with more Black arts and heritage organizations in our state through the Artist Trust website. The Museum has many more resources to learn about the legacy of Juneteenth here, including book lists for Juneteenth reading materials.
On June 15, 10 museums of African American history and culture (including the Northwest African American Museum) will join forces to commemorate Juneteenth. At this website, you can download and share Juneteenth fact cards, plus download the Juneteenth flag coloring page. Also, use the hashtag #blkfreedom and tag us on Instagram at @blackfreedomdotorg.
Celebrating Juneteenth – Inclusivity in the Coffee Industry is June 16 at 10 a.m., presented by the Seattle Good Business Network. The event is free and on Zoom. Register here. Join host Edward McFields, owner of NoirePack Inc. and member of Seattle Good Business Network, as we discuss with Boon Boona‘s owner Efrem Fesaha and Campfire Coffee Co’s founder Quincy Henry about the barriers of entry for minorities in the coffee business, the ins and outs of operating a coffee enterprise, community service, and advice to BIPOC entrepreneurs looking to pursue a career in the coffee industry. Seattle is notably the epicenter for various specialty coffee roasters. A city recognized by its star lineup of specialty roasters, not to mention Seattle, is headquarters to Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee. Over the years, specialty coffee has become a significant part of Seattle’s identity, and the city has created its own coffee culture. However, the coffee community, though, reflects neither the diversity of the origins of coffee nor the pluralism of the city. This is not solely in Seattle, but it cascades to other major coffee cities in America. Nevertheless, there are hidden jewels in this coveted industry shifting the discourse surrounding this popular beverage. We’re excited to get to talk with two of these industry leaders! Enjoy a great cup of coffee from Boona Boona and Campfire Coffee Co during the event! Order The Northwest pack including both Boona Boona and Campfire Coffee Co or the Let’s Go Camping pack featuring three roasts from Campfire Coffee Co. Each $27 pack comes with three 4 oz bags of coffee. Order your sampling pack from Noirepack Inc. by June 10 in order to receive your pack prior to the event.
Northwest African American Museum presents Virtual Juneteenth Week 2021 – Celebrating Black Freedom, June 13-19. “Each year, the Northwest African American Museum commemorates Juneteenth with family-friendly activities that help us to remember and reflect upon our shared past,” said LaNesha DeBardelaben, President & CEO of NAAM. “This year, with nine days of programs and the world premiere of our new African American Cultural Ensemble, NAAM is making Juneteenth mean even more to our current times." Read the program descriptions below and get more information here.
NAAM’s Interactive Storytime: Sing A Song
Sunday, June 13 | 1 PM | VIRTUAL
Join NAAM for its newest culturally relevant story read aloud. Former Seattle Sounders FC player & Broadcast Analyst Steve Zakuani will read Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice and Sing Inspired Generations by Kelly Starling Lyons, followed by an interactive art session led by Teddy ‘Stat’ Phillips. Art will be displayed in the Seattle Sounders FC & Rave Foundation "Goals for Art" program.
The History and Future of Juneteenth: Annette Gordon-Reed with Marcus Harrison Green
Monday, June 14 | 7:30 PM | VIRTUAL
In conversation with South Seattle Emerald publisher Marcus Harrison Green, Harvard history professor Annette Gordon-Reed “weaves together American history, dramatic family chronicle, and searing episodes of memoir” in her book, On Juneteenth. In this book, she recounts the origins of Juneteenth and the enormous hardships that African Americans have endured since and explains how, from the earliest presence of Black people in Texas, African Americans played an integral role in the state’s story. She argues that the slave- and race-based economy not only defined the fractious era of Texas’s independence, but indeed caused the Mexican American and Civil Wars.
Juneteenth: Lift Every Voice
Tuesday, June 15 | 6 PM | VIRTUAL
Ten Black museums join forces—in the BlkFreedom Collective—to virtually commemorate the 156th anniversary of Juneteenth. Each museum has selected a theme from the Black National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” to guide their short video contribution. As part of the program, NAAM will debut its African American Cultural Ensemble (ACE), which will explore the theme of hope through a multimedia performance of "Ooh Child" made popular by Five Stairsteps. In partnership with the BlkFreedom Collective, the T-Mobile Foundation has sponsored more than 7,900 books as part of NAAM’s Knowledge is Power Book Giveaway, which provides free books celebrating Black culture to K-12 students.The books will be distributed at the 10 BlkFreedom Collective museums plus five other locations nationwide. NAAM will distribute these books as part of its Juneteenth Youth Night on June 17 and at the Juneteenth Jamboree on June 19. Learn more and tune in to this special virtual program at www.blkfreedom.org.
Carol Anderson, The Second Book Event with Christopher Sebastian Parker
Wednesday, June 16 | 5:00 PM | VIRTUAL
Historian and award-winning, bestselling author of White Rage, Carol Anderson will speak about her book, The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America. In The Second, Anderson powerfully illuminates the history and impact of the Second Amendment, how it was designed, and how it has consistently been constructed to keep African Americans powerless and vulnerable. She will be joined in conversation with University of Washington political science professor and author Christopher Sebastian Parker.
ELEVATE (v.) raise or lift to a higher position
Wednesday, June 16 | 6:30 PM | VIRTUAL
ELEVATE is a community showcase of Black and Brown voices uplifting one another through the art of spoken word. This event will feature raw, bold, breathtaking performances from our youth, local historians, and unsung heroes, followed by a community conversation.
Juneteenth Youth Night
Thursday, June 17 | 8 PM | DRIVE-IN | Lumen Field North Lot
To celebrate 2021 graduates, NAAM will host a Drive-In Black Graduation at the Lumen Field North Lot as part of Juneteenth Week 2021 Youth Night. This event will celebrate graduates from pre-K through college. Youth Night will also recognize the accomplishments of NAAM's 2020 Dr. Carver Gayton Youth Curators for the amazing work that they completed in the midst of a pandemic. Immediately following the celebration, families can enjoy a drive-in movie.
Juneteenth 2021 Artist Collective
Friday, June 18 | 7 PM | VIRTUAL
NAAM has teamed up with the Diversity, Equality, and Inclusivity Committee of the Space Needle & Chihuly Garden and Glass, One Vibe Africa, and Wa Na Wari to celebrate Juneteenth by raising the voices of Black and African American artists to Seattle through a virtual show. Two artists or artist groups in four categories, including poetry/written word, music, dance, and visual arts, will perform. The top entries in each category will also receive a $500 Visa gift card and an invitation to participate in the Juneteenth Jamboree on June 19.
Saturday, June 19 | 12 PM | IN PERSON | JUDKINS PARK
The Northwest African American Museum and Rec'N The Streets (City of Seattle Parks & Rec) present the Juneteenth Jamboree. Full of family fun, recreation, and activity from local professional sports teams, including the Sounders, the Seahawks, the Mariners, and the Storm, this will be a Juneteenth celebration that you will not forget!
NAAM's Juneteenth Encore + Black Music Month Monday Program
THE E RATIO: Entertainment vs Education
Monday, June 21 | 6 PM | VIRTUAL
NAAM, in partnership with WaNaWari and Elliott Bay Book Company, presents The E Ratio: Entertainment vs Education. Paul Porter is a captivating speaker and entertainment industry veteran who empowers students to shift their behavior patterns from consuming social media and entertainment to absorbing education. Author of the critically acclaimed book BlackOut, Paul Porter unveils the real nature and motivations behind the music that gets played on radio and TV. Porter shares his first-hand experiences with detailed insight as an insider and decision-maker at the highest levels of the industry. A thought leader in the radio and music industry, he is a go-to expert on music, race and culture for major media outlets like CNN, MSNBC, Entertainment Tonight, FOX News, Billboard and Rolling Stone.
Seattle Center Festál Festival Sundiata presents Black Arts Fest in partnership with Sundiata African American Cultural Association (SAACA), June 19 and 20. The festival focuses on intergenerational activities and promotion of traditional and contemporary African American heritage, showcasing local entertainment, photography, food merchants, historical exhibits, and more! Festival Sundiata (pronounced: Soon-jah-tah), is the longest running African American festival celebrated in the Pacific Northwest and Seattle, holding its first festival in 1980. The festival is named in honor of the Sundiata Keita, the historic and legendary Mansa (King of Kings) of the Mali Empire in West Africa. King Sundiata rescued his people’s griot and created one of the most significant cultural and economic kingdoms in Africa.
It Takes a Village – Juneteenth Festival is June 19 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at The Station at Othello Park in Seattle. It Takes a Village creates a unique, annual event space to celebrate the Black community and learn about the Black experience while sharing in the diversity of culture that makes up our neighborhoods, connecting people to services and resources they need to live their best lives while enjoying a day spent in and with community, sharing food, ideas, goods, and more. Our Juneteenth event promotes community health and empowerment of those with the least power in our society. We do this by bringing people together in a safe and welcoming space to share food, enjoy the talents of local artists, craftspeople, and more, and by giving people opportunities to connect to local services relevant to their wellbeing. We provide in-depth education on the history of Juneteenth and encourage all event attendees to share knowledge, perspective, and ideas and make valuable connections while enjoying this joyful and educational community event. The event will feature food, music, a history lesson, vendors, community service booths, and more.
MOHAI presents 1619: Resistance / Resilience / Remembrance, an online program on June 19 at 2 p.m. Celebrate Juneteenth with a special storytelling-hour featuring Mr. Delbert Richardson. During this hour, Mr. Richardson will highlight the resistance of his ancestors during the periods of American chattel slavery and Jim Crow, as well as focus on the resilience of Black brilliance. This online program draws from sections of the national award-winning American History Traveling Museum: The Unspoken Truths, which will be on display at MOHAI from June 18 through June 21, 2021.
Snohomish County’s Juneteenth Festival of Freedom is on now through June 25, featuring a festival of rich virtual and in-person activities. Some of the festivities include: Juneteenth Harambee event on June 10, Sponsored by Edmond College; Black History in Snohomish County on June 14, sponsored by The Black Heritage Committee; New Leaders, New Table on June 15, sponsored by Snohomish County's first African American-centered political action committee, SEPAC; Black Panel Discussion on June 18, sponsored by the NAACP; Juneteenth History Storytelling by Eva Abrams on June 19, sponsored by Lift Every Voice Legacy (LEVL) and live-stream Church Sermon by the Jubilee Church of God in Christ in Everett on Sunday, June 20. For a complete Juneteenth calendar of events, go to the LEVL website. Presented in partnership with the Snohomish County Black Heritage Committee, NAACP Snohomish County, and the Committees of Color Coalition.
City of Lynnwood presents Juneteenth Celebration: Drive-Thru Event and Online Presentation on June 18. Celebrate and learn about the history and traditions of Juneteenth, which started in Texas and is now observed in many states. Drive through the Lynnwood Senior Center for a piece of red velvet cake to enjoy while watching the online presentation. The Drive-Thru is 11:30 a.m. to noon, and the online presentation is 1-2 p.m. Find out more and register here.
Read the Board proclamation making Juneteenth a Metro Parks Tacoma holiday.
Celebrate Juneteenth, Freedom Day, on June 19 with a special limited edition program kit from Tacoma Public Library. This kit will feature the supplies needed to make your own Juneteenth sign for display. This program kit will be available, while supplies last, during TPL To Go hours at all branches on June 19 only. Program kits are a fun way to bring our arts and crafts activities home with you. Register for one of our limited-edition program kits to take home everything you need for a unique craft project. There is no live program element to program kits—take one home and let it spark your creativity! Get more info here.
Join Tacoma Library on Zoom for a special Juneteenth Family Storytime on June 19 from 3-3:30 p.m. We'll read books written by Black authors that celebrate the modern Black experience. Get more info and register here.
49th Annual Juneteenth Oregon is a free live stream community event from Jack London Revue, produced by PDX Jazz. The event features live musical performances by Sarah Clarke, Parisalexa,Cool Nutz & DJ Fatboy, Amenta Abioto, Libretto, Donna Jones & The Delegation, DJ O.G. ONE, and Tamia Mitchell who will sing the Black National Anthem. With special appearances by Governor Kate Brown, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, Mel Brown, Norman Sylvester, Marlon “The Magician” McClain, Clinton Fearon, Kamari Rivers, and Mic Crenshaw. The event will also feature guests from the Miss Juneteenth program which provides education, tools, and resources to help youth build resilience, gain confidence and make positive life choices. Find out to watch here.
The National Museum of African American History & Culture at The Smithsonian has lots of information about the historical legacy of Juneteenth.
The National Registry has historical information about Juneteenth, General Order Number 3 which was read by General Granger to the people of Texas informing them that all slaves were free, Juneteenth festivities and food, Juneteenth and society, Juneteenth in modern times, and much more.