Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, or Emancipation, is an annual federal holiday observing the end of slavery in the United States and marks our country’s second Independence Day.
In 1863, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared enslaved people living in the Confederate states to be free. However, news that slavery was abolished was widely ignored and did not reach the deepest parts of the former Confederacy in Galveston, Texas until June 19, 1865, over two years after the emancipation proclamation was signed. In 1979, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday, and as of June 17, 2021 Juneteenth became the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was declared a federal holiday in 1986.
We commemorate June 19 as the day slaves were truly set free and celebrate our black and African-American community members, and commit to working together toward equity for all in expanding economic, educational, and career opportunities for everyone in our community. Issaquah is committed to continue to nurture and ensure that our residents feel welcome and are treated with respect, dignity and understanding.
Mayor Pauly will issue a proclamation at the June 5, 2023 City Council meeting stating that June 19th will be known as Juneteenth Day in the City of Issaquah.
Celebrate with Community
June 16: Global Grub & Groove: Juneteenth, hosted by the Issaquah Highlands Council
June 19: Celebrate Juneteenth, hosted by the City of Issaquah Equity Board
June 10: Celebrate Juneteenth! At the Federal Way King County Library youth and families are invited to a Juneteenth experience, including artistic performances, community partner information tables and activities in the Makerspace. Featuring exhibits from the American Traveling History Museum: The Unspoken Truths, including Mother Africa and Black Inventors by founder and curator Delbert Richardson.
June 12-16: Juneteenth Celebration – Virtual Arts and Crafts Market Place is a way to support Black owned small businesses and purchase unique, handmade items.
June 17: Eastside Honoring Juneteenth at Juanita Beach Park in Kirkland will feature Delbert Richardson and his Unspoken Truths American History Traveling Museum. Additional speakers for the day include Paula Sardinas, President and CEO of FMS Global Strategies and the WA Build Back Black Alliance; Dwight Jones Sr., Microsoft, Author of A Black Journey in Tech. Enjoy food, music and youth performances.
June 17: Free Juneteenth celebration in Kent the Kent Black Action Commission will be hosting a Juneteenth event at the Kent YMCA.
June 17: Juneteenth Celebration Rainier Beach Community Center will be featuring local food, entertainment, raffle prizes and Black owned business shops.
June 21: SilverKite Community Arts: Celebrating Juneteenth offers online inter-generational workshops, talks, social hours and performances.
June 24: It takes a Village Juneteenth Community Fest at Othello Park is a family friendly even that celebrates the Black community and promotes community health. Enjoy soul food, artist, kids corner, photo booth, entertainment and more.
June 25: Renton Juneteenth Celebration at Liberty Park will feature 40+ vendors, 14 performances, food trucks, career fair, basketball tournaments and more.
The City and its newly created Equity Board, in partnership with the Baha'i's of Issaquah, hosted an in-person educational community event in June 2022, featuring Mr. Delbert Richardson, owner/curator of the national award winning American History Traveling Museum - The “Unspoken” Truths.
Picture books to enjoy with children of all ages to learn and celebrate Juneteenth.
- Big Papa and the Time Machine by Daniel Bernstrom
- Magnificent Homespun Brown by Samara Cole Doyon
- Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy
- Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper
- Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford
- Juneteenth: A Children’s Story by Opal Lee
- Juneteenth by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
- Raven The Great: What is Juneteenth? by Dr. Paulette McClain
- All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson
- Freedom’s Gifts: A Juneteenth Story by Valerie Wesley
The King County Library has curated a reading list commemorating Juneteenth.
Read books about Juneteenth:
- Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom by Charles A. Talyor
- On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed
- Let’s Celebrate Emancipation Day and Juneteenth by Barbara Derubertis
- The Brightest Day: A Juneteenth Historical Romance Anthology by Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart, Piper Huguley
- Traditional African American Arts and Activities by Sonya Kimble-Ellis
- Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery by Deborah Willis
- Juneteenth: Freedom Day by Muriel Miller Branch
Read stories that honor the richness of Black American culture, heritage, legacy and freedom:
- A Little Devil in America by Hanif Abdurraqib
- Black Girls Must Be Magic by Jayne Allen
- This Purpose of Power by Alicia Garza
- Hidden Black History by Amanda Jackson Green
- On Juneteenth by Annette Gorden-Reed
- We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
- Stony the Road by Henry Louis Gates
- Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison
- The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes
- The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Dive deeper into the history of Juneteenth with these articles:
- Library of Congress: Celebrating Juneteenth
- PBS: What Is Juneteenth?
- New York Times: So You Want to Learn About Juneteenth
- Washington Post: Grandmother of Juneteenth
- Gov Info: Juneteenth
There are a number of movies and documentaries related to the holiday.
- PBS Series: Juneteenth Jamboree, which "illuminates the significance of the Juneteenth holiday and shares stories about black culture and history."
- Juneteenth: A Celebration of Overcoming
- 13th: Thought-provoking documentary where scholars, activists and politicians analyze the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S. prison boom.
- Just Mercy: Film based on the life work of civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson that focuses on the systematic racism in our society.
- When They See Us: Based on the true story about the Central Park five teens who were falsely accused of a brutal attack that made nationwide headlines.
- Selma: Based on the true story of Marin Luther King and the turmoil in Selma.