Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States and is now a City of Bellingham holiday as well as a state and federal holiday. The City holiday commemorating Juneteenth in 2022 is Monday, June 20.
In 1863, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared slaves living in the Confederate states to be free. However, news that slavery was abolished did not reach the deepest parts of the former Confederacy in Galveston, Texas, until more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. It was on June 19, 1865, that Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.
We commemorate June 19 — Juneteenth — as the day slaves were truly set free. Juneteenth celebrations are a platform for encouraging the acceptance of diversity and offer an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the sacrifices and challenges enslaved Africans endured to achieve freedom. We celebrate our African-American community members and commit to working together toward equity for all.
Resources for celebrating and learning
2022 local events
- June 17: Juneteenth flag raising at Bellingham City Hall, June 17, 2:15 p.m.
- June 18: Annual Bellingham Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday, June 18, 2-6 p.m. at Maritime Heritage Park, produced by the Bellingham Unity Committee with various co-sponsors.
Websites and articles
- National Museum of African American History and Culture: An extensive multi-media compilation of resources presented through an award-winning Juneteenth webpage.
- Western Washington University: Compilation of Juneteenth resources
- Bellingham Public Library: Talking about race, ethnicity and racism, a compilation of resources including books for children and adults and other resources for race and anti-racism education and discussion.
- Library of Congress: The Birth of Juneteenth
- New York Times: So You Want to Learn About Juneteenth
- Washington Post: Grandmother of Juneteenth
- Gov Info: Juneteenth
Films and documentaries
- I Am the Hope and the Dream: Juneteenth video project of Connect Ferndale (also embedded below)
- PBS Series: Juneteenth Jamboree, which “illuminates the significance of the Juneteenth holiday and shares stories about black culture and history.”
- 13th: Thought-provoking documentary where scholars, activists and politicians analyze the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S. prison boom.
- Just Mercy: Film based on the life work of civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson that focuses on the systematic racism in our society.
- When They See Us: Based on the true story about the Central Park five teens who were falsely accused of a brutal attack that made nationwide headlines.