Juneteenth FAQ

Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth “Independence Day” or “Freedom Day,” is an annual holiday to commemorate the day Union troops enforced the abolition of slavery and the liberation of all enslaved African Americans who remained in bondage in Texas until June 19,1865—over two years after the emanicpiation proclaimation was issued and instated in America. 

On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation effectively ending slavery on January 1, 1863. However, the Proclamation had little effect in the State of Texas until two and half years later. It was on June 19, 1865, that Union General Gordon Granger read General Orders No. 3 to the people of Galveston, Texas:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaved are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

In 2021 Juneteenth was made a Federal Holiday. A bill was also signed in Oregon for Juneteenth to become a State Holiday the following year in 2022.

At the moment South Dakota is the only state that doesn’t currently have any law in place to commemorate the celebration of Juneteenth. 

Oregon’s Juneteenth celebration was founded 50 years ago by the late and beloved community leader and organizer Clara Peoples. In 1945, Peoples introduced the tradition from Muskogee, Oklahoma, to her co-workers at the Kaiser Shipyards in Portland. 

Upon moving to Portland in that same year, Clara Peoples was surprised to learn that Juneteenth was unknown in this part of the country. She introduced the holiday to her co-workers at the Kaiser Shipyards during their break being the first Juneteenth Celebration in Oregon. Later, Peoples  helped to initiate Portland’s annual citywide Juneteenth celebration in 1972. 

Every year, our Juneteenth Oregon celebrations begin with a parade, followed by an array of festivities including live music and entertainment, art, food, educational booths, cultural exhibitions, community resources and a children’s play area.