Juneteenth celebration to kick off in Eugene, first time as federal holiday

The event will take place from noon to 7 p.m and is a free event open to all ages.

Posted: Jun 19, 2021 3:19 AM
Updated: Jun 19, 2021 6:09 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Eugene’s official Juneteenth Celebration will kick off Saturday at Alton Baker Park.

Juneteenth is a federal holiday and time to commemorate the emancipation of African-American slaves.

The free event will take place from noon to 7 p.m and is open to all ages.

The theme this year is ‘Turning Trauma into Joy’ and H.O.N.E.Y. and Xcape Dance Company will be organizing the event.

There will Black performing arts, food carts, BIPOC-owned businesses and education about underlying issues and the fight for equality.

On Thursday President Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

For 45 years the state of Oregon has recognized June 19 as Juneteenth to commemorate the end of slavery. In April, lawmakers voted to make it a state holiday, starting next year. But starting this year, according to Mayor Lucy Vinis, the city of Eugene is declaring the day an official holiday.

With a unanimous 28-0 vote, senators passed House Bill 2168, which recognizes the June 19 holiday's cultural and historical significance. Gov. Kate Brown signed it into law last week.

RELATED: GOV. BROWN SIGNS BILL MAKING JUNETEENTH STATE HOLIDAY STARTING NEXT YEAR

Drea Smith, an event organizer, said that there’s an extra reason to celebrate this year.

“Joy needs to be brought to the forefront of the focus especially after a pandemic, when all of us suffered -- doesn't matter what race,” Smith said. “Everyone experienced some sort of heaviness during these times. So, this is a time to celebrate and get together.”

Organizers said they will make every effort to ensure safety and health throughout the event.

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