June 16 is an Oregon state holiday for the first time – Oregon Capital Chronicle – Low Calorie Diets Tips

A national celebration of the end of slavery, which has roots in Oregon in a shipyard in the 1940s, will be a state holiday for the first time this year.

For more than 150 years, African American communities have celebrated June 19, or June 16, the anniversary of the day in 1865 that Union troops finally arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, and announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved people in the state – the last slaves in the newly united USA – were free.

Celebrations began in Texas the following year and migrated. The tradition came to Oregon in 1945 when Clara Peoples moved from Muskogee, Oklahoma to work at the Kaiser shipyards in Portland and introduced her to her peers.

In 1972, Peoples helped start an annual citywide celebration in Portland. Fifty years later, celebrations continue in Portland and across the state as a state holiday during the first year of June 16.

Oregon’s Law

On June 18, 2020, after nearly a month of daily protests over police killings and systemic racism in Portland, Gov. Kate Brown proclaimed June 19 as June 16 and announced that she would let lawmakers introduce a bill making it a state holiday in 2021.

“I know this is a small but important step,” Brown said. “I encourage all Oregonians to join me in celebrating June 16 by educating yourself about systemic racism in this country and getting involved in the fight for racial justice.”

According to the every state celebrates June 16th Congressional Research Service, but only 18 states treat it as a paid vacation. In 2021 it became a national holiday.

Texas was the first to officially recognize June 16, 1980 as a paid holiday. The other 17 states that treat it as a holiday all began doing so in 2020 or later.

And Texas led most states in recognizing the holiday by more than 20 years. Only Minnesota and Oklahoma observed Juneteenth before 2000.

A family affair

Peoples, who brought Juneteenth to Oregon from her home state of Oklahoma, died in 2015. Her granddaughter, Jenelle Jack, now runs the nonprofit Juneteenth Oregon, which organizes a parade and two-day festival in Portland and hosts leadership workshops for girls and women.

“When she died, me and her other granddaughter, my sister, said, ‘We’re going to carry on the legacy and keep the awareness out there for others to know what Juneteenth is,'” Jack said. “And here we are with a federal holiday and a state holiday, but she did all the legwork.”

Raised as a Peoples granddaughter, Jack always knew what Juneteenth was. But she didn’t learn it in school, where she recalls hearing about the Emancipation Proclamation and sometimes seeing a phrase about the holiday. The girls, ages 6 to 19, who participate in her organization’s Miss Juneteenth program still learn about Juneteenth from the nonprofit, not their schools, Jack said.

Jack considers June 16 to be America’s second Independence Day. When the Continental Congress declared independence from Britain on July 4, 1776, America’s founders declared that all men were equal and had certain rights, including liberty—but many of these men also owned slaves.

It wasn’t until June 19, 1865, when the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas, that all Americans were truly free. It would be decades before women, Native Americans, and people of Chinese descent were allowed to vote, and black men, who were given the right to vote by the 15th

“You can’t have a day of freedom, and everyone isn’t free,” Jack said. “But here we are. We’re getting our June 16th and it’s a community event. It’s a celebration for everyone because we’re all Americans.”

A few people dance in the rain at a June 16 celebration at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany on Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Julia Shumway/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

A “Festival of Dignity”

Two decades before the Oregon Legislature voted to make June 16 a paid state holiday, the Legislature voted agreed to a decision He declared that every June 19 should be “a nationwide day to celebrate the dignity and freedom of all citizens.”

Former Senator Avel Gordly, the first black woman elected to the Oregon Senate and author of that legislation, told the Capital Chronicle that language is important. At the time, Juneteenth was not widely known, let alone celebrated, outside of black communities.

“We want to applaud the fact that this is an American celebration,” she said. “It’s not just a black-only celebration. It’s a celebration within black history, but black history is American history, so we can all lay claim to it.”

Peoples and another organizer, Woody Broadnax, came to Gordly with a request that June 16 be recognized as part of a national movement to raise awareness of the day.

Gordly reflects on the day in the context of Oregon history. The territorial government ordered all blacks to leave the state in 1844, with a law that was never enforced and that would have punished them with a severe flogging every six months.

When Oregon became a state in 1859, the constitution specifically prohibited black or mixed-race people from living, owning property, or entering into contracts in the state. Oregon was the only state with such a clause, and it remained in place until 1926, although the 14th Amendment made it unenforceable. At the 2020 census only 3.2% of Oregon’s population identified as black or partially black—far fewer than the 14.2% of all Americans and the neighboring states of Washington (5.8%), California (7.1%) and Nevada (12.1%).

Now that June 16 is a state and federal holiday, Gordly said work must continue for Americans to understand why the day is being celebrated. Other holidays, like Memorial Day or Labor Day, started out honoring soldiers killed in war or workers’ rights and turned into excuses to host barbecues or promote mattress sales.

To honor the spirit of Juneteenth, public schools must teach about black history, including but not limited to slavery, Gordly said. Students must learn about the contributions Black Americans have made to the country’s culture and how slavery shaped much of the past.

“By the time we get to the place where we actually teach the true history of the founding of the nation, we’re going to fall short, but we don’t have to fall short,” she said. “We just have to do the hard work of facing the truth of how we got to where we are as a nation. I think it’s an exciting place because it’s about truth and asserting how we came to be a nation built economically on the backs of those who were enslaved.”


Since June 19 falls on a Sunday, the federal and state governments celebrate the holiday on Monday, June 20.

All state and federal offices and courts will remain closed Monday. Most banks are also closed after federal holidays.

The US Postal Service will also not deliver any mail on Monday. Shops may be closed or have changed hours so check before you travel.

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