Wilsonville government commemorates Juneteenth
In the midst of a national conversation about racism and police brutality, the city of Wilsonville took a small step to honor one of the paramount occasions of black American history and American history in general: Juneteenth.
The city named Friday, June 19, "A celebration of Juneteenth," to commemorate the day (June 19, 1865) Union troops traveled around Texas informing people that all slaves were free. According to the declaration, many slave owners moved to Texas following the abolishment of slavery and the number of slaves significantly increased in the state even after abolition. The holiday is recognized in Oregon and 46 other states but not federally.
The declaration notes that Juneteenth is often celebrated with public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing songs like "Sweet Chariot," reading distinguished black writers like Maya Angelou and Ralph Ellison and eating barbecue and other cultural delicacies.
Mayor Tim Knapp said he was not familiar with the history of Juneteenth prior to community members bringing it to his attention recently.
"I wanted to thank the members of our community who brought this to our attention and I think it's entirely appropriate in this particular time of concern for equity and opportunity for especially black people, who have been in our country for hundreds of years but have still not achieved full equality because of some of the strictures we place within our society," Knapp said. "We look forward to continuing the dialogue of equity within our community and within our society."
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