a special Juneteenth collection of essays in which Seattleites “reflect on freedom, resistance and joy to honor the day liberation finally arrived for enslaved African Americans in Texas, over two years after Emancipation.” You can find links to the Juneteenth collection, below. Here are a few way to mark the day on Capitol Hill and in the Central District.
- JOY IS NOT THE VINYL. IT’S THE RECORD PLAYER by Anastacia-Reneé —It’s no wonder in horrific and hopeful awake-o-lyptic times such as these that very often I hear the layered voices of brilliant people I love saying that small and large things “give them life,” that small and large things are being magnified and multiplied as examples of “Black joy.”
- THE LEGACY WORK OF RESISTANCE AND LIBERATION by Inye Wokoma — In many ways the celebration of Juneteenth is a marker, a symbolic placeholder that allows Black America to focus on what has been a constant in our existence prior to and after June 19, 1865 — the ongoing struggle for our liberation. It is a moment to hold up an aspect of our reality that is distinct from all other American citizens, except perhaps our First Nations kin. Our lives are almost entirely defined by the perpetual fight against white supremacist systems and a psychic and cultural environment saturated with what the writer and therapist Resmaa Menakem calls “white body supremacy.” Juneteenth is an opportunity to celebrate our continued resilience and resistance to ongoing attacks on our humanity.
- JOY IS A REVOLUTIONARY ACT by Catherine Harris-White aka SassyBlack —I didn’t grow up celebrating Juneteenth. It wasn’t until I was 10 years old, fresh to Seattle, that I learned about this day of liberation. At a young age, through my mother’s work, I spent time doing anti-racist organizing as part of Youth Undoing Institutionalized Racism. The Black folx I interacted with there would teach me about their annual celebrations. Although empowering, I was saddened by the lengths that slave owners went to continuously hold my people down. It was another confirmation that this country was built on the tricking and sabotage of Black people. It pushed me to learn more about my history.
- ON POLICE VIOLENCE AND UNEXPLAINED LOSS by Vivian Phillips — My earliest recollection of anything to do with police was the suspicious death of an uncle while he was in police custody in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. I was 5 years old. I recall bowed heads and low conversation among my mother, her brothers and my grandfather. I was left to stay with granddaddy for a few days after, and his small three-room house felt shrunken by the darkness in his eyes.
- THE NEXT WAVE OF EMANCIPATION by Reagan Jackson — We can’t talk about Juneteenth without discussing freedom. But what do we mean when we use that word? How can we strive for something we can’t define?
- A DAY THAT CONTAINS MULTITUDES by Ben Danielson — Juneteenth is inextricably connected to the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic that I oversee. I am happy to be celebrating my 21st Juneteenth with the clinic today. Sights, aromas and sounds make up the triple-stranded foundation of this tradition. The sights of gentle smiles, of scores of brown faces in every hue, of generations interlacing, of long tables of generous food offerings. The aromas of a favored traditional family dish, a closely guarded secret barbecue rub, a side that sends you back to your childhood. The sounds of all-too-infrequent reunions, of fervent joyful conversation over plates of food, of solemn words describing the mournful and joyful complexity of this event, of the inspiring syncopation of voices – both talented and just plain sincere – belting out the lines of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
- A CAUTIONARY TALE by Lola Peters — I must have been 8 or 9 the first time I heard about it. My parents were hosting a backyard barbecue for friends and someone mentioned it was Juneteenth. I had to ask my father what the word meant, and he laughingly explained it was a contraction for June 19th, 1865, the date enslaved people of African descent in Texas were told that the U.S. government had freed them 2½ earlier. As he and his friends chatted about it, I realized it was a cautionary tale. My young mind filled with questions.