PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — On the first Juneteenth as a state and national holiday, there were a number of celebrations and events in the Portland area.
The Albina Vision Trust held an online teach-in to educate about the holiday. But they also used it as an opportunity to focus on urban planning in the city.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and author/activist Stephen Green spoke about how changes in the community take time, but the time to start making those changes is now.
PDX Jazz also held its annual Juneteenth celebration which, for the second straight year, was a virtual event. That did not stop the music and festivities.
Speakers like State Sen. Lew Frederick pushed to not just remember what Juneteenth is about but how to use it to improve things going forward.
Frederick said Juneteenth can be used to help promote “economic security across the board.”
Along with the music was art depicting African-American culture and the fight for equal rights.
Another group marked Juneteenth with a march from Peninsula Park to King Elementary, followed by a celebaration of Black community and cultures.
Among the organizers was Portland’s Brendan Scarlett, who starred in the NFL.
Scarlett was there with his Big Yard Foundation, which focuses on a number of ways to improve disadvantaged neighborhoods like getting better access to books that will help increase literacy.
Juneteenth is the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. One of the federal holidays, Inauguration Day, happens every four years.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas — two months after the Confederacy had surrendered.