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News / Life / Clark County Life

Juneteenth offers fun, serious discussion

Event to celebrate freedom, take on systemic racism

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian staff writer
Published: June 22, 2018, 6:03am
8 Photos
The late Val Joshua, who lived and worked in Vancouver during World War II, was the inspiration for the Racial Justice Awards given by the YWCA Clark County during the annual Juneteenth celebration here.
The late Val Joshua, who lived and worked in Vancouver during World War II, was the inspiration for the Racial Justice Awards given by the YWCA Clark County during the annual Juneteenth celebration here. The Columbian files Photo Gallery

This year’s Juneteenth celebration will run the gamut — from music, dancing and a bouncy house for children to serious conversation about ending systemic racism in our community and around the world.

The annual event, sponsored by the NAACP Vancouver, is set for 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday at Foster and Hanna Hall at Clark College, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way in Vancouver.

The YWCA Clark County will begin the day by honoring two Vancouver residents for leadership in working toward the elimination of racism and the promotion of peace and justice with its annual Val Joshua Racial Justice Award and Youth Social Justice Award. After that, a 2 p.m. WorkSource job fair will spotlight local, livable-wage jobs. The day winds up with a 4 p.m. panel discussion about ending and erasing systemic racism, entitled, “Where do we go from here?” and featuring community organizers and officials from Clark County, the city of Vancouver, Vancouver police and the Vancouver and Evergreen school districts.

That’s all serious and important stuff, but plenty of fun is on the schedule, too: crafts and games for children including face painting and that bouncy house; free hot dogs and hamburgers for the first 75 kids; contests to choose the best NAACP T-shirt design and “Grandma’s Best Pie”; and music and dancing by Portland’s Groovin’ Highsteppers.

If You Go

• What: Juneteenth celebration.

• When: 1 to 6 p.m. June 23. 

• Where: Foster and Hanna Hall, Clark College, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver.

Freedom Day

What is “Juneteenth”? Also known as African American Freedom Day, it’s a mash-up of “June 19th,” the date in 1865 when the last slaves in America were freed. That was in Galveston, Texas, and two-and-a-half long years after President Abraham Lincoln signed his Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves throughout the Confederacy. It was also months after the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution banned slavery throughout the nation, and months after the Civil War officially ended.

But Texas refused to comply with the end of slavery until Gen. Gordon Granger showed up, backed by 2,000 federal troops. That makes June 19, 1865, the real end of slavery in America.

There is no federal Juneteenth holiday, but 45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted Juneteenth as a state holiday. Texas was the first, in 1980. Washington state made Juneteenth an observance in 2007.

To learn more about Juneteenth and the local celebration, visit VancouverNAACP.weebly.com or Facebook.com/VancouverNAACP. If you’re interested in entering a pie in the contest, contact Carol Collier at carolpagecollier@outlook.com.

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