The public is invited to Centralia’s Juneteenth celebration set for June 17 at George Washington Park, according to a news release from the city.
While Juneteenth is historically celebrated on June 19, the city chose to hold its celebration on the Saturday before to give as many people as possible the opportunity to attend, according to the release.
The Juneteenth celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to noon and will feature various speakers, singers and authentic Jamaican food catered by Jerk An Tingz of Olympia.
Juneteenth is a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States after the Civil War when Union soldiers enforced President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and freed the remaining slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865.
Event organizer Usha Sahadeva-Brooks said Juneteenth celebrations are for everyone.
“Multiculturally Minded Lewis County, in collaboration with the Centralia City Council, wishes to take this opportunity to educate all. We use Juneteenth to acknowledge the divisions and past faults, help heal current divisions and faults and move towards a future that is more united and accepting of all,” Sahadeva-Brooks said in the release. “To me, there is nothing more profound than the ability to educate and converse with anyone who is willing to have that conversation.”
Jim McCully, another event organizer, added that Juneteenth is a reminder for him for how precious freedom is and to not take anything for granted.
“I want to make sure this celebration not only takes place once a year but is taught to our friends and neighbors throughout the year,” McCully said in the release. “The layer of hate is like having an unneeded layer of clothing. Let us as a society start pulling off the coat of hate.”
Centralia Mayor Kelly Smith Johnston said she is proud the city can be a part of the event, especially given Centralia’s history.
“Centralia was founded through the generosity of George Washington, the free son of an enslaved man. Centralia itself is a reminder of what we gain when all people are free,” Smith Johnston said in the release.
Attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs. George Washington Park is located in downtown Centralia at the intersection of South Pearl Street and West Main Street.
Should it be raining during the event, speakers will move inside of the Centralia Timberland Library located at the park and the celebration will continue there.
For more information, contact Multiculturally Minded Lewis County on its Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/multiculturallymindedlc/.