Lift Every Voice Legacy (LEVL) is hosting an Edmonds Kind of Juneteenth Father’s Day Picnic 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 19 at Esperance Park in Edmonds. (Lift Every Voice Legacy)

Lift Every Voice Legacy (LEVL) is hosting an Edmonds Kind of Juneteenth Father’s Day Picnic 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 19 at Esperance Park in Edmonds. (Lift Every Voice Legacy)

Juneteenth celebrations span Marysville, Snohomish, Edmonds

The holiday recognizes when the last enslaved Black people learned they were free by federal decree in 1865.

MARYSVILLE — Event organizers hope people will take time around Juneteenth to celebrate, learn and support one another throughout Snohomish County.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers reached Galveston, Texas, and announced over 250,000 enslaved Black people there were free.

It has been celebrated ever since, predominately among Black people. It only recently gained widespread recognition by governments as a holiday.

In his youth Donnie Griffin’s family spent every Juneteenth at a picnic. But it wasn’t as widespread in the Puget Sound region.

These days, he puts a Juneteenth flag in his front yard. It still draws questions from neighbors, he said.

“This is not a Black holiday, this is an American holiday,” Griffin said. “My hope is slavery isn’t something we try to quiet, or be ashamed of, or don’t know how to talk about.”

The holiday’s public celebrations in Snohomish County start with a Juneteenth Kickoff 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Asbery Park, 1605 7th St., Marysville. Change the Narrative Granite Falls, an anti-racism group founded by Michael Adams, is hosting it with the city and Marysville School District.

It will feature art, discussions about solidarity with Black, indigenous and people of color communities, food, music, a silent auction and speakers. State Reps. April Berg of Mill Creek and Brandy Donaghyof Everett, Bothell community organizer Han Tran, and Junelle Lewis from the Monroe Equity Council are scheduled to speak.

The event will also recognize Loving Day on June 12 that honors Mildred and Richard Loving and their legal fight against laws that made interracial marriages illegal.

“There’s a lot to be said,” Adams said. “It is a celebration for the community.”

NAACP Snohomish County is organizing a celebration 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 18 at Willis Tucker Park, 6705 Puget Park Dr., Snohomish. Snohomish County and the Community Foundation of Snohomish County partnered in the event.

There will be free food from Soul2Go, music and speeches. NAACP Snohomish County President Janice Greene, state Sen. John Lovickof Mill Creek, Congressman Rick Larsen of Everett, and several students are slated to speak.

Donnie Griffin founded Lift Every Voice Legacy (LEVL) to fulfill Martin Luther King Jr.’s Utopian hope for the “beloved community.” LEVL is hosting a Juneteenth Kind of Father’s Day Picnic 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 19 at Esperance Park, 7830 222nd St. SW, Edmonds.

It will include arts and crafts, face painting, free food and games, as well as a program of music, readings and speeches about the history of slavery and abolition in the U.S.

“We wanted to make this an event that was embracing and welcoming to everyone regardless of their food insecurity or economic status,” Griffin said. “This is a picnic for everybody.”

Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037;; Twitter: @benwatanabe.

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