A proclamation celebrating Juneteenth was read at a meeting of the Centralia City Council on Tuesday by Mayor Kelly Smith Johnston.
Before reading the proclamation, Smith Johnston spoke briefly about George Washington, the founder of Centralia.
“We were founded by a black man named George Washington, and he was the son of some former slaves. He traveled far and wide, quite literally, to try and find a place that would allow him to own property as an African American here in the United States and was moved along in many places. He found a home here in this area and settled it and he is renowned in the annals for his great generosity,” said Smith Johnston, “His generosity of donating land to start our city is one we still benefit from today.”
After the proclamation was read, Smith Johnston said a Juneteenth celebration would be held on Sunday at the Pine Street Plaza in downtown Centralia at 9 a.m.
The Centralia City Council voted last February to make June 19 an official observance of the Juneteenth holiday. The move came after the state took similar action in 2021.
Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people were freed. It came more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
“Recognizing Juneteenth is the direction we want to head,” Councilor Mark Westley said in February. “We want to recognize and value all members of our community that we represent. This is a big step forward. … We are establishing a very clear direction for future generations.”
Councilor Leah Daarud was the only dissenting vote.