African American families in the Puget Sound region first celebrate Juneteenth on June 19, 1890.

  • By Helen Lacy
  • Posted 11/07/1998
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 271
On June 19, 1890, African American families from Seattle and Tacoma gather in Kent to celebrate, for the first time, the adoption of the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which enfranchises persons of color.

This celebration, sponsored by the Sons of Enterprise, was the first Pacific Northwest observance of what is known to African Americans as "Juneteenth."

Juneteenth celebrates the issuance of General Order No. 3 by Union Major General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865 at Galveston, Texas. The order announced the Emancipation Proclamation and that ex-slaves had "absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property."

Word of the Emancipation Proclamation, the edict issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, that freed the slaves in the Confederate states in rebellion against the union, did not reach Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas until after the collapse of the Confederacy.


Sources: Esther Hall Mumford, Seattle's Black Victorians 1852-1980 (Seattle: Ananse Press, 1980), 166, 167; Muriel Miller Brancj, Juneteenth: Freedom Day (New York: Cobblehill/Dutton, 1998), 10-12.

Related Topics:   Black Americans | Firsts | Society

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