How will you honor Juneteenth?

d3d358b1b11dd700b503562ec436094e-jpg-17001215- Photo by Megan Farmer, KUOW

Seattle Theatre Group recognizes Juneteenth

This year the holiday, which has long been cherished by African Americans, remains urgent, as the nation continues to be ravaged by the killings of Black people, division on Black voting protection laws, and the banning of Critical Race Theory in schools. Critical race theory examines the ways that race and racism intersect with culture, politics, and the law.

Juneteenth reminds us that, as a lived experience, freedom is not equally shared. It requires Black joy, Black hope, the protection of Black hearts, and Black celebration in the very streets and communities where demonstrators have chanted the names of unarmed Black people murdered by racism and white supremacy. Juneteenth means supporting Black businesses and entrepreneurs, investing in Black excellence, and loving Black youth who are the leaders of tomorrow.

Juneteenth historic timeline:

January 1, 1863: The effective date of the Emancipation Proclamation declaring the freedom of all enslaved African Americans which was signed by President Abraham Lincoln in the midst of the Civil War.

June 19, 1865: The day enslaved African Americans in Texas were informed by Union soldiers in Galveston, Texas that the Civil War was over and that they were free people. This was more than two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued. The following year, the first celebration of freedom took place in Texas organized by those formerly enslaved. Also referred to as "Freedom Day" and "Jubilee Day" to name a few, Juneteenth was conceived by Black communities in the south, and then across the nation as a day of empowerment and celebration of culture and accomplishment.

Two different children's books for Juneteenth

STG staff reflections:

"Juneteenth began as a celebration of Texas freeing their slaves in 1865, two years AFTER the Emancipation Proclamation. That in-part of U.S. history for me, tends to dredge up ill feelings. The very notion that an entire state could thumb their noses at a federal law feels incredibly current. Voter suppression, abortion rights, and (insert your cause here) may also be under attack in the Lone Star state. Unfortunately, systemic inequities that were birthed out of the atrocities of slavery still plague our nation. June 19 is seen as a day of commemoration, but I like to also think of it as another day of action; action that brings forth acknowledgement, then change for Black people to be equally considered and upheld." — Den'ea Simone, House Manager

"This Juneteenth, I am feeling appreciative that our federal government made this a national holiday in 2021. I am also feeling hopeful that in the years ahead, the understanding of Juneteenth's importance to us all will only grow, especially for our children. I'm reminded of Bob Marley's song 'Babylon System (tell the children the truth).' Observing Juneteenth is important to STG and our community because freedom is at the core of humanity. We are in the business of performing arts, which is reliant upon freedom of expression. At STG, Juneteenth is a time to remind ourselves that we have the honor and responsibility to celebrate Black culture on our stages and in the community all the time—not just on June 19 or during Black History Month." — Josh LaBelle, Executive Director

"Juneteenth is a time to talk with my children about history, freedom, and the continuing pursuit of liberation. My kids are both young, and we like to tackle big topics with the help of great books, like Juneteenth for Mazie, by Floyd Cooper. I'd also encourage everyone to check out the fantastic Juneteenth programming with the Northwest African American Museum." — Nate Dwyer (He/Him), Chief Operating Officer

Choreographer Noelle Price of PriceArts performs with cellist Gretchen Nicole during a TedXSeattle Gummi Ibsen Photography

"I moved to the US my junior year of high school and accepted that there were things relating to US History I will always be behind on and learning about. It was thanks to the TV show Black-ish that I learned about Juneteenth and was shocked when my US history knowledge surpassed that of the people around me who had had the privilege of, as I thought, 'getting the full story.' I have been lucky to be able to learn about this holiday from local Seattle artists such as Noelle Price of PRICEarts through community events that cater to all ages and focus on celebration. There is so much more to learn still. I focus this time to uplift Black-owned business through sharing them on socials or doing my shopping through their sites. I recommend checking out I am not expert in the subject, but I do what I can with as many people I know to make sure this gap in history is closed, with love." — Adriana Wright, Education Partnership Manager

"I too, will be reading Juneteenth for Mazie to my 2-and-4-year-old daughters. Juneteenth is a beautiful invitation for continued learning and reflection. As an Asian American, I am a settler on Coast Salish land—in a nation that became economically prosperous through the enslavement of Black people. Because I am an American, I am a part of this history. It is my responsibility to know it—to work on changing harmful legacies—and to raise antiracist kids. My girls are pre-school age, meaning they are the perfect age for conversations about fairness and unfairness, to read books about Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Malcolm X, to name their own skin color and race, and learn about other people's. I seek out stories both where their own identities are centered, and also, books with Black and other PoC characters who are different from them. These are a few simple ways that I try to embody values of justice, healing, and liberation year-round." — Gabrielle Nomura Gainor, Senior Communications Manager

"As of today, these same United States of America, a country which states within the first paragraph of its founding document 'that all men are created equal' has yet to atone for slavery in any meaningful or significant way. However, here are a few things giving me hope. For example: Mississippi, the last holdout, has removed the confederate emblem from their state flag, racial justice activists are being heard by a greater number of people, talk of Black reparations has been forced back onto the mainstage of American Politics and is no longer (solely) a discussion among the far left, local governments are taking a hard look at how they police their communities and as a result, are enacting new policies and procedures. But while there are reasons for hope, just one look through an objective and wide-angle lens reveals that we have a very long way to go on our road to racial equity." — Dan Reinharz, Neptune Theatre Manager 

Where to learn more: 


· The History Of Juneteenth : Fresh Air : NPR is an oral history of Juneteenth and the events that took place on June 19, 1865, when slavery ended in Texas.

· About this Collection | Voices Remembering Slavery: Freed People Tell Their Stories | Digital Collections | Library of Congress ( consists of a series of 23 interviews and recordings with formerly enslaved people between1932 to 1975 sharing their reflections about being slaves, the slave holders, their families, and the experience of being free.

· Juneteenth Podcasts | iHeart



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