Kent’s first Juneteenth celebration was held as a family reunion picnic style event on June 24, 2012 at the Kent Senior Center. The event was a huge success and featured vendors, games and kids activities, reading of the Proclamation, preaching, story-telling, singing, dancing, and more. The food was amazing and everyone had a great time. The important thing is that everyone learned about the origin and history of Juneteenth. Every year since, the celebration has been repeated. It is a free event for everyone in the community. More info: KBAC JUNETEENTH 2022 CELEBRATION IN KENT | Facebook and https://kentblackactioncommission.org/juneteenth/
On January 1, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that “all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State… shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” Yet, it did not immediately free a single slave as the country was in the midst of a civil war. Two and a half years later on June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger and two thousand troops marched into Galveston, Texas to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves. This was a cause for celebration as former slaves rejoiced in the streets about their new found freedom. That joyous day has since become known as Juneteenth, an observance of the freeing of the last enslaved people in the United States. Also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, Juneteenth is now observed throughout the U.S. and across the world and is recognized as a state holiday in 41 states including Washington State. It is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.