WENATCHEE — About 70 people gathered Saturday for Wenatchee’s second annual Juneteenth celebration. The Pioneer Park event came just two days after President Joe Biden signed into law a bill making Juneteenth a federally recognized holiday.
Chelsea Murphy, event organizer, said she was “over the moon” seeing people come together at the park.
“I’m so thankful to be a Black woman today, in our community,” she said. “Just standing here knowing what my ancestors have overcome, it’s definitely a day of celebration.”
Murphy said she is excited for the future of Juneteenth in the Valley and hopes knowledge of the holiday will grow over time.
Everyone should share in the celebration of Juneteenth, the day is for all Americans, not just for the Black community, she said. Families can take this day, learn a little, and have their own special way of celebrating
A lot of people were protesting and marching for Juneteenth last year, but now in 2021, people can take a break and share the joy while gathered together, she said.
“It’s just a time to be alive,” she said. “I know that there are things that we still need to work on, but for today, I’m pausing for joy.”
It’s the second year Wenatchee Valley residents have gathered for the celebration.
The history of Juneteenth dates to June 19, 1865, when Union Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce the Civil War had ended.
Granger’s arrival freed enslaved people in the region two years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
This is something new, said Wenatchee resident Kim Steensma, who brought her two daughters out to the event. Wenatchee is “doing so many new things, moving forward … I’m just grateful that we could do this as a community, together.”
Sarah Horowitz, a Leavenworth resident who came to the park celebration with her family, said it is important to participate in Juneteenth.
“We know too much now to be blind or ignorant” and celebrating this holiday means an awareness of people who came before, she said.
Cameron Shepherd Beyenberg, a Wenatchee resident and poet who spoke during the event, said the emancipation of all people is a true celebration of independence.
“Being here to celebrate a day like Juneteenth I think is a great march forward for us as a community, especially [a] community that is quite divided politically, racially, economically, religiously,” he said.