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On Juneteenth, we celebrate freedom and community.

Juneteenth isn’t just about celebrating a day or a single historical event. It’s a celebration of freedom, resilience, community, and the possibilities of good things to come. The passing down of stories and history is a large part of how my family, and I have connected and remained resilient over generations of living here in Tacoma.

~ L.F., Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

Juneteenth—a fusion of June and 19th—marks the day when news of freedom reached the ears of the last enslaved African Americans. On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas. He brought news of the freedom to all enslaved African Americans through the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln two years before. Juneteenth is a day of reflection, restoration, and celebration of community.

Juneteenth Flag

My family celebrates Juneteenth by proudly flying our Juneteenth flag on our house and attending community celebrations.

~ Selina Chambliss, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

The U.S. named Juneteenth a Federal holiday in June 2021. In 1997, Ben Haith, founder of National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation, and illustrator Lisa Jeanna Graf created the first Juneteenth Flag to symbolize a new era of freedom for all Americans. The white star surrounded by a burst symbolizes the freedom of the last slaves in Texas as well as as a promise of freedom for African Americans in all 50 states. By using red, white, and blue, the flag reflects the colors of the American flag that tie us together as one country.

Juneteenth is:

  • A symbol of freedom and triumph over oppression.
  • A day to reflect, celebrate, and learn.
  • A chance to honor the struggles and achievements of African Americans.
  • A reminder of the ongoing fight for equality—one that demands all our commitment.

As a family we discuss and explore their neighborhoods, experiences and the state of the city during that time as well as lessons learned throughout life and desires for their legacy. We support Black owned businesses and participate in events and experiences.

~ L.F.

Juneteenth serves as an opportunity to celebrate the resilience of our ancestors and the excellence of Black Americans.

~ Selina Chambliss.

On June 17, 2020, we declared racism a public health crisis. The Racism and Resilience Action Response Team (RRART) was formed in response to national racial justice issues and lay the foundation for our response. We have since created a Racial Equity and Justice Program to integrate the work in our internal processes and bring focus on community engagement, policy change, and accountability. 

My girls and I began celebrating Juneteenth about 10 years ago. My daycare provider introduced and educated us on why they chose not to celebrate July 4th but celebrate Juneteenth instead. They would invite us to celebrate with them – good food, storytelling, laughter, and fellowshipping.

The history behind Juneteenth is not taught in every classroom and probably never will be. So, celebrating it is a way for my family and I to acknowledge and appreciate those souls before us that were denied freedom to benefit others.

~ Anonymous.

We have worked with Pierce County communities to identify opportunities to co-create solutions together. Our collaboration continues and we look forward to seeing the changes to come as we strive to engage in anti-racist work.

We really enjoy listening to the Black History Bootcamp: The Walking Podcast by Girltrek, while enjoying walks in community and enjoy the lessons and positive affirmations. Ultimately, Juneteenth is a time for reflection, education and most importantly, celebration. We continue to be inspired by the perseverance and spirit of Black people in this nation and the joy of freedom.

~ L.F.

More than 155 years later, across the country and our county, people honor Juneteenth with colors, foods, flags, and celebrations. People celebrate what freedom and community mean to them.

Juneteenth Flag Big

The Health Department and Tacoma Creates are excited to offer Juneteenth Celebration: A Road to Economic Freedom, June 19, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Stewart Heights Park.

It’s one of many events happening around Pierce County. Other events: 

June 17, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.: 4th Annual Juneteenth253, Wright Park, 501 S. I St., Tacoma, WA, 98405.

June 19, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.: Juneteenth Celebration: A Road to Economic Freedom, Stewart Heights Park, 5715 Reginald Gutierrez Ln., Tacoma, WA, 98404.

June 19, 6:19 p.m.: The Colorful Road to Freedom: A Juneteenth Celebration, People’s Park, 900 Martin Luther King, Jr., Way, Tacoma.

June 30, 4-10 p.m.: Black Night Market: Juneteenth, LeMay – America’s Car Museum, 2702 E. D St., Tacoma, WA, 98421.