Prosser to celebrate Juneteenth with “History Hour”

Juneteenth to be a state holiday in Washington state in 2022 (Prosser)
OLIVIER DOULIERY // Getty Images

News of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation did not reach slaves in Texas for two-and-a-half years when Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger marched into Galveston on June 19, 1865, to announce the end of slavery and the Civil War to the last slaves still toiling for their masters on American soil. Also known as “Black Independence Day,” the moment has been enshrined as Juneteenth, one of the most important dates in civil rights history. In 1980, Texas became the first state to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday, and all but a handful of states honor the date, which has received renewed attention amid 2020’s racial turmoil.

PROSSER, Wash. — Experts and storytellers will come together for a Juneteenth celebration to educate people on the history of Washington state’s most recently recognized holiday.

According to a press release issued by Prosser Social Justice, visitors will gather at Prosser’s branch of the Mid-Columbia Library from noon to 1 o’clock p.m. on Saturday, June 19. The public is invited to attend this educational event being held on the branch’s new outdoor stage.

Emcee’d by Mikki Symonds, this event will include a handful of speakers from throughout the community including Maricela Sánchez, Rachel Mercer, Cliff Gamble, and Blake Slonecker.

RELATED: Juneteenth to be a state holiday in Washington state in 2022

Prosser Social Justice is a team of dedicated activists whose mission is “Creating community involvement and awareness to ensure a more equitable Prosser.”

Juneteenth commemorates the events of June 19, 1865. On that date, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to take control of the state and free the remainder of the nation’s slaves. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation two and a half years prior, but Confederate states failed to recognize it during the Civil War, which concluded roughly two months before the first celebration of Juneteenth.

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Widely considered the longest-running African-American holiday, Juneteenth honors the end of slavery in the United States of America.

In 2007, the Legislature designated Juneteenth as a day of remembrance. South Dakota and Hawaii are the only other states that don’t have some sort of official observance of the holiday. The Washington state Legislature passed a measure that makes Juneteenth a legal state holiday on April 9.

During the most recent Washington state legislative session, lawmakers motioned to deem Juneteenth a legal state-paid holiday, starting in 2022

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