Juneteenth is a long-standing African American holiday, falling on June 19, that honors the resistance and resilience of Black people in America.
While the Emancipation Proclamation decreed that all enslaved people should be free in 1863, slavery continued to exist in some states, including Texas. On June 19, 1865, that Union General Gordon Granger read General Orders No. 3 to the people of Galveston, Texas:
“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaved 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.”
While Juneteenth is a joyful celebration of freedom, it’s also important to recognize the devastating delay of emancipation for enslaved people and the continued impacts of systemic racism today. At CCC we know that, while homelessness can happen to anyone, racial inequities limit access to affordable housing, behavioral health care and living-wage jobs. This leads to higher numbers of Black people as well as Indigenous and other people of color, in Portland’s homeless population. Read more about CCC’s commitment to anti-racism here.
Juneteenth in Oregon
In 2021, Juneteenth became a federal holiday and in 2022, it became a state holiday in Oregon. But the day had a rich history in Oregon long before it gained government recognition. Juneteenth Oregon, the nonprofit behind the annual Juneteenth Oregon Celebration, shares the story on their website.
“In Oregon, Juneteenth Oregon Celebration was founded 50 years ago by the late and beloved community leader Clara Peoples. The celebration of Juneteenth Oregon dates back to 1945 when Peoples introduced the tradition from Muskogee, Oklahoma, to her co-workers at the Kaiser Shipyards in Portland. Upon moving to Portland in 1945, Clara Peoples was surprised to learn that the Juneteenth holiday was unknown in this part of the country. She introduced the holiday to her co-workers at the Kaiser Shipyards during their break. being the first Juneteenth Celebration in Oregon.
Later Clara helped to initiate Portland’s annual citywide Juneteenth celebration in 1972. Juneteenth Oregon’s celebration starts with a parade, followed by festivities which includes live music and entertainment, art, food, educational and cultural booths, community resources and a children’s play area.”