Centralia mayor makes Juneteenth proclamation; organizers preparing for celebration next month


On Tuesday, May 28, Centralia Mayor Kelly Smith Johnston delivered a proclamation during a city council meeting announcing the upcoming Juneteenth holiday on June 19, celebrating the end of slavery in the U.S. in 1865 following the Civil War.

“Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and celebrates the successes gained through education and greater opportunity,” Smith Johnston said. “... Celebration of Juneteenth reminds each of us of the precious promises of freedom, equality and opportunity which are at the core of the American dream.”

She added Juneteenth holds special significance in Centralia, as the town’s founder — George Washington — was the son of an enslaved African American.

Despite racism and prejudice remaining prevalent throughout the U.S. following the end of slavery, Washington still made his way to the Pacific Northwest where he finally found a place he could purchase property.

After delivering the proclamation, Smith Johnston presented it to Jim McCully of Multiculturally Minded Lewis County, organizers of the city’s upcoming Juneteenth Celebration, scheduled for June 17.

Along with Multiculturally Minded Lewis County, the Juneteenth celebration is also being organized by the Lewis County Dignity Guild and the City of Centralia.

McCully told those in attendance this holiday holds special meaning in his view, especially with the divisiveness currently existing across the country. He invited everyone to attend.

“It’s an inclusive, not an exclusive, club. We are trying to include everyone to come out and support this. It’s not just a Black thing, it’s a Latino thing, a Native thing, an Asian thing and a White thing, believe it or not,” McCully said. “We’re all in this together, and we all want to support each other … There’s nothing wrong with diversity, just the fear of it.”

The Centralia Juneteenth Celebration is free to attend and will be held on Wednesday, June 19, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at George Washington Park in downtown Centralia, located at 110 S. Silver St.

“There will be speakers, soul food and music,” McCully said. 

For more information, visit the Centralia Juneteenth Celebration Facebook event page at https://bit.ly/3V57EdQ

Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed, according to history.com

The troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday. On June 17, 2021, it officially became a federal holiday.