‘This is not just a Black event’: Yakima community invited to Juneteenth celebrations this weekend

Juneteenth Celebrations Yakima
Credit: Emily Goodell, KAPP-KVEW

YAKIMA, Wash. — The Yakima community has been celebrating Juneteenth for more than 30 years and this weekend’s celebrations continue that tradition with food, concerts and other entertainment.

“This is not just a Black event; it is a community event,” said Anthony Peterson, interim director of the OIC of Washington. “We just want to have fun and see our community and celebrate together.”

Peterson said community awareness of Juneteenth outside the African-American community has grown in recent years, especially since it became a federally-recognized holiday in 2021.

“It’s just a time for the Black community to share our success, determination, perseverance and being finally free in the United States,” Peterson said.

However, he said there are still a number of people who still don’t know the history behind the day: to celebrate the last of the slaves in the United States being freed.

“As we know, the Emancipation Proclamation occurred in 1863,” Peterson said. “However, it took two years after the Emancipation Proclamation to get the slaves that were in Galveston, Texas freed.”

The OIC of Washington, Yakima County NAACP, Shaw & Sons Funeral Home and the Seasons Performance Hall have partnered together to host several Juneteenth events over the weekend, including:

  • Friday, June 17 at 6:30 p.m.: The Seasons Performance Hall is holding a free musical performance by Danae Howe in the Seasons Gallery and Bistro. For more information, call 509-453-1888.
  • Saturday, June 18 at 12 p.m.: The Yakima County NAACP is hosting its 31st annual Juneteenth event at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, featuring entertainment, food vendors and resource booths. For more information, call 509-575-
  • Sunday, June 19 at 5:30 p.m.: The Seasons Performance Hall is holding its first annual “Juneteenth Life and Freedom Celebration for the Yakima Community” with gospel, blues and jazz music performed by Seattle vocalist Josephine Howell. It will also feature an “in memoriam” for the losses local African-American families suffered during the COVID shutdown.” Tickets can be purchased here and are $15 for general admission, $45 for a VIP table for two and $90 for a VIP table for four.

Peterson said even if people don’t choose to celebrate Juneteenth — also known as Freedom Day — they should at least be aware of the meaning behind it.

“In many communities, we celebrate July 4, which is Independence Day,” Peterson said. “But that’s not truly Independence Day for all communities in the United States, specifically in the Black community.”

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