KIRO NEWSRADIO

Tacoma hosts largest Juneteenth celebration in the state

Jun 19, 2024, 5:22 PM | Updated: 5:27 pm

Photo: A Juneteenth celebration took place in Tacoma....

A Juneteenth celebration took place in Tacoma. (Photo: James Lynch, KIRO Newsradio)

(Photo: James Lynch, KIRO Newsradio)

For the second straight year, what’s billed as the largest Juneteenth celebration in Washington was held at Tacoma’s Stewart Heights Park. Complete with live music, food vendors, a career fair and a play zone for the children.

But the history behind Juneteenth is why so many people celebrate it. Juneteenth celebrates the day, June 19, 1865, when more than a quarter million slaves in south Texas learned the Civil War was over and they were free people. That day came two-and-a-half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Looking back: Celebrating Juneteenth 2024 and reflecting on local Black history

“I celebrate Juneteenth because it is actually a long overdue and unnecessary celebration. In that, we should have been free in 1863 and it took two-and-a-half-years for all of us to be acknowledged as free,” celebrant Whitney Mason told KIRO Newsradio.

Event organizer, Jerome Davis noted economic freedom.

“They were free from slavery and then put into poverty. That isn’t freedom,” Davis said. “This event is about true freedom, which I believe is economic freedom.”

Vendors offered mouth-watering food and drinks. Along with ice cream, jewelry, clothing and art. They served the crowd and supported each other.

“Just giving back to my community, supporting other vendors, seeing other black businesses grow and just being part of the community, man,” vendor Charles Davis said.

The event is hosted by Metro Parks Tacoma and WayOut Kids and goes until 8 p.m. Wednesday.

More than 8,000 people attended the celebration in 2023. Even more are expected this year, before the day is done.

You can read more of James Lynch’s stories here. Follow James on X, or email him here.

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Tacoma hosts largest Juneteenth celebration in the state