PHOTOS: Celebrating Juneteenth at Pratt Park and Rainier Beach Community Center

by Susan Fried

Seattle’s DeCharlene Williams started the local Juneteenth Celebration at Pratt Park 36 years ago, at a time when few people outside of Texas knew what Juneteenth was. Juneteenth or Freedom Day celebrates the anniversary of the date the last enslaved people in the United States were freed. Although the Emancipation Proclamation, came into effect on January 1, 1863, the more than 200,000 enslaved people in Texas weren’t notified until June 19, 1865 when the Union Army arrived in Galveston, Texas, and informed the people of Texas that “all slaves are free.”

The holiday has grown here as more people who know about Juneteenth from around the country move here. What started as a couple of small festivals and celebrations in Seattle has turned into dozens of events held in honor of the historic day. Some of the 2019 events in Seattle included Community Celebrations at Rainier Beach Community Center and Yesler Community Center and the 36th Annual Juneteenth International Celebration sponsored by the Central Area Chamber of Commerce at Pratt Park.

There are still several opportunities to celebrate Juneteenth including the Linda Sweezer Memorial Juneteenth Festival & Celebration June 22 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Morrill Meadows Park in Kent, and a Free Juneteenth celebration in Renton, on the same day from noon to 7 p.m. at the Harambee Church.

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Myke Hodges tap dances during Celebrate Juneteenth at Rainier Beach Community Center on June 13. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Three kid dance with the Electronettes drill team during the Juneteenth Celebration June 13 At Rainier Beach Community Center. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Phil Sparks plays the bass with the Last of the Tribe during their performance at the 36th Annual Juneteenth Celebration at Pratt Park on June 15. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Northwest Tap Connection performs a Maypole Ceremony during the 36th Annual Juneteenth International Ceremony at Pratt park on June 15. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Geordan Newbill, a member of the Seattle Buffalo Soldiers, rides in the Pratt Park on June 15 for the 36th Annual Juneteenth International Celebration. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Booker T Williams plays the tenor saxophone with the Last of the Tribe during their performance at the 36th Annual Juneteenth International Celebration at Pratt Park on June 15. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Payton, 5, (center) joins several other children at the arts and crafts table during the Juneteenth Celebration at Rainier Beach Community Center on June 13. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Denise Leonard, owner of A Sista Thang!, shows Lilia, 11, some of her hats during the Juneteenth International Celebration June 15 at Pratt Park. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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The Electronettes drill team performs during the Juneteenth Celebration at Rainier Beach Community Center on June 13. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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The Seattle Buffalo Soldiers arrive at Pratt Park for the 36th Annual Juneteenth International Celebration. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Three-year-olds Keylani and Yaya dance during Celebrate Juneteenth, June 13 at the Rainier Beach Community Center. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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A group of boys took the stage and sang during the 36th Annual Juneteenth International celebration June 15 at Pratt Park. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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The Electronettes drill team performs during the Juneteenth Celebration at Rainier Beach Community Center on June 13. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Maiya, 18 months, draws with chalk on the plaza outside the Rainier beach Community Celebration during the Juneteenth Celebration on June 13. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Jaydon T. Beleford sings a spiritual during the Juneteenth Celebration at Rainier Beach Community Center on June 13. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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The Electronettes drill team performs during the Juneteenth Celebration at Rainier Beach Community Center on June 13. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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A girl does a cart wheel during the Juneteenth Celebration at Rainier Beach Community Center on June 13. (Photo: Susan Fried)

Featured Photo: Three-year-olds Keylani and Yaya dance during Celebrate Juneteenth, June 13 at the Rainier Beach Community Center. (Photo: Susan Fried)

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