On Saturday, citizens in Portland had an opportunity to celebrate “Juneteenth,” the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
Firefighters at Station 14 showed their support by taking part in the “Freedom Trail Parade,” which began in front of the Wells Fargo Bank branch on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Jarrett Street, ending at Jefferson High School. The Grand Marshall for the parade was Bernie Foster, president of the Skanner Newsgroup, and long-time community leader.
Celebration continued there at the annual Juneteenth Festival held on the athletic field at Jefferson High School with specialty foods, musical artists, special guest speakers, arts and craft vendors, and prizes. Guest speakers include Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, Dr. Harold Briggs and Ricky Muhammad. Musical artists include the Kirk Green Band, the Calvin Walker Band, Tammara Stephens, Iesha Spinks, Nafisaria, the Lite and the Future.
What is Juneteenth?
Although President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862, it was not until June 19, 1865 that freedom came to the last slaves in Texas. Juneteenth is now celebrated in 29 states, including Oregon, California and Michigan, and the District of Columbia. Some states, such as Alaska, Arkansas and New York consider it an official holiday, and close government offices in observance.
Portland Fire & Rescue
We Respond: Always Ready, Always There
June 20, 2011