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Council celebrates freedom with recognition of “Juneteenth”

Summary

The Metropolitan King County Council today recognized Juneteenth, the celebration of the end of more than two centuries of bondage of Americans of African descent in the United States.

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The Metropolitan King County Council today recognized Juneteenth, the celebration of the end of more than two centuries of bondage of Americans of African descent in the United States.

“Juneteenth is now the closest occasion for there being a true ‘freedom day’ to celebrate in this country for people of African descent,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett, the sponsor of the proclamation. “Now, more than ever, the people of Martin Luther King, Jr. County should understand and celebrate the significance of Juneteenth.”

Two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, two months after Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate forces, and one month after the last official battle of the Civil War, the last Africans and African-Americans in bondage were told of their freedom by Union forces. That date, June 19, 1865, became a day of celebration for the African-American descendants of those freed slaves.

As those descendants left Texas and spread throughout the United States, they took the celebration with them, a recognition and remembrance of the challenges they faced then and today.


RECOGNITION

WHEREAS, Juneteenth recognizes and commemorates the day of June 19, 1865, when enslaved African-Americans in Texas were informed by Major General Gordon Granger that they were “free,” ending 246 years of chattel slavery; and

WHEREAS, slavery throughout the United States had been abolished some two and a half years earlier when President Abraham Lincoln enacted the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, but resistance to the Executive Order, as well as continued fighting in the state of Texas regarding the abolishment of slavery, significantly delayed the freedom of slaves; and

WHEREAS, on June 19, 1866, one year after Major Granger’s announcement, the freed African American men and women in the state of Texas held the first “Juneteenth,” or African American Independence Day celebration, and Juneteenth celebrations would later spread to all corners of the country; and

WHEREAS, the state of Texas became the first state in our nation to make Juneteenth an official holiday in 1979, followed by 41 other states that recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or holiday observance; and

WHEREAS, for people of African descent in this country, Juneteenth is the closest occasion of a true “freedom day” to celebrate; and

WHEREAS, in King County, Juneteenth will be celebrated in people’s homes and neighborhoods, with one of the largest events being hosted by Central Area Chamber of Commerce, which has celebrated Juneteenth for 36 years with the theme “Lessons from the Past, Inspiration for the Future”; and

WHEREAS, this year, 2019, marks the quadricentennial, or four-hundredth commemoration, of the arrival of the first kidnapped African slaves in Point Comfort (Hampton), Virginia, in 1619;

NOW, THEREFORE, we, the Metropolitan King County Council, proclaim June 19, 2019, as

JUNETEENTH

in Martin Luther King, Jr. County, recognize its historic importance, and encourage all residents to join us in its celebration.

DATED this nineteenth day of June, 2019.

 

 



 

 


Contact the Council
Main phone:
206-477-1000
TTY/TDD:
206-296-1024
Email:
council@kingcounty.gov