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Respond to Racism to help organize educational protest at Millennium Plaza Park June 19.

COURTESY PHOTO - Respond to Racism, in collaboration with other individuals, is hosting a Juneteenth event this Friday at Millennium Plaza Park from 3-6 p.m.Protests and marches continue to fill the streets of communities across the nation. And this Friday will be no different — except there will be both a celebratory and educational component.

Lake Oswego's Respond to Racism, in collaboration with other community partners, is organizing a celebration of Juneteenth — the day the remaining enslaved Americans in Texas were told they were free in 1865, shortly after the end of the Civil War and roughly two years after former President Abraham Lincoln declared freedom for enslaved Americans in rebel states.

Community members are invited to gather at Millennium Plaza Park June 19 for a celebratory event from 3-6 p.m.

The event will include guest speakers from the local black community who will talk about the significance of Juneteenth as well as the history of racism in Lake Oswego and Oregon. There will be a call for action, followed by a short march around the area.

"This celebration, while it's a recognition of Juneteenth, is also — given where we are in our country today — it's a real call to action," said Willie Poinsette, co-founder of RtR. "Stop the talking; stop all the meetings and do something about what's happening in the country … stop making lists of books to read that people don't read; stop just having a meeting here and a meeting there. We want some action and it's a big call out to white people."

People who attend the event are asked to wear masks, keep their distance and stay home if sick.

"People will learn at this event — things that aren't taught yet fully or completely in our schools," said Terri Kraemer, one of the organizers of RtR, adding that the educational component is really important. "Especially for older white people who really got very little education (about this holiday)."

Poinsette said some businesses are providing a paid holiday.

"It's a celebration so we want to bring some attention to the residents of Lake Oswego because of our demographics and then ask for some action because this is a time to act," Poinsette said. "The action has to be more than just walking in the march; that's just a symbolic step. We want people to make a real commitment to do something that's going to make a difference for people of color, the black, the indigenous and people of color that live, work or pass through our town."

The Lakeridge High School Equity Council is also hosting an event June 19 to provoke discussions surrounding racism at Foothills Park from 1-2:30 p.m.


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