The Yakima community celebrates Juneteenth

Credit: Emily Goodell, KAPP-KVEW

YAKIMA, Wash. — The Yakima community has celebrated Juneteenth for more than 30 years, and this weekend’s celebrations continue that tradition with food, concerts, and other entertainment.

“It’s not just a black event; it’s a community event,” said Anthony Peterson, acting director of Washington’s OCI. “We just want to have fun and see our community and celebrate together.”

Peterson said community awareness of Juneteenth outside of the African-American community has grown in recent years, especially since it became a federally recognized holiday in 2021.

“This is just a moment for the black community to share our success, our determination, our perseverance and to finally be free in the United States,” Peterson said.

However, he said there are still a number of people who still don’t know the story behind the day: to celebrate the freeing of the last of the slaves in the United States.

“As we know, the Emancipation Proclamation took place in 1863,” Peterson said. “However, it took two years after the Emancipation Proclamation for the slaves who were in Galveston, Texas to be freed.”

OCI of Washington, NAACP of Yakima County, Shaw & Sons Funeral Home and Seasons Performance Hall have partnered to host several June 19 events over the weekend, including:

  • Friday, June 17 at 6:30 p.m.: The Seasons Performance Hall is organizing a free musical performance by Danae Howe at the Seasons Gallery and Bistro. For more information, call 509-453-1888.
  • Saturday June 18 at 12 p.m.: The Yakima County NAACP is hosting its 31st annual Juneteenth event at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, featuring entertainment, food vendors and resource booths. For more information, call 509-575-
  • Sunday, June 19 at 5:30 p.m.: The Seasons Performance Hall is hosting its first “June 19 Celebration of Life and Freedom for the Yakima Community” with gospel, blues and jazz music performed by Seattle singer Josephine Howell. It will also feature an “in memoriam” for the losses suffered by local African American families during the COVID shutdown. Tickets can be purchased here and cost $15 for general admission, $45 for a VIP table for two, and $90 for a VIP table for four.

Peterson said that even if people don’t choose to celebrate Juneteenth — also known as Freedom Day — they should at least be aware of the meaning behind it.

“In many communities we celebrate the 4th of July, which is Independence Day,” Peterson said. “But it’s not really Independence Day for all communities in the United States, especially in the black community.”


READ: Miss Juneteenth scholarship program turns 20

Previous A statement on race-based data from the Toronto Police Association
Next Doug and Carla Spence named 2022 Pope County Farm Family of the Year | life in the valley