by Carolyn Bick, Susan Fried, Marcus Harrison Green
An estimated 8,000 demonstrators turned out for Friday’s Juneteenth Freedom March hosted by King County Equity Now. The march commenced from 23rd and Union in the Central District, near the Beauty salon of DeCharlene Williams, the Seattle businesswoman credited with organizing the first official Juneteenth Celebrations in Seattle. Demonstrators filled the streets — carrying signs declaring Black Lives Matter, and demanding an end to racism and police brutality. The march finished at Jimi Hendrix Park, adjacent to the Northwest African American Museum, where demonstrators were treated to music, speeches, vendors, and a salute to Black graduates.
Earlier in the day, Andre Taylor, founder of Not This Time!, organized a Next Steps rally in Judkins Park, where families who lost loved ones at the hands of police, recounted their experiences.
With Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan in attendance, Taylor said he hoped the energy around the day, and current protests against police brutality, could be used to enact policy changes toward greater equity, and police reforms on a wider scale.
Long celebrated in the Black community, Juneteenth commemorates one of the final acts of emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. On June 19th 1865, enslaved Africans in Galveston, Texas, finally learned of their freedom from Union General Gordian Granger, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln took effect.
With it becoming more widely celebrated, efforts are underway to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
March to Jimi Hendrix Park by Susan Fried
Marchers Celebrate at Jimi Hendrix Park by Carolyn Bick
Featured image by Susan Fried