“Today is about breaking the loop”: Celebration and Calls to Action in Seattle Juneteenth March
Growing up near Bothell, Amanda Luckett and Amanda Chamba came to the Central District on weekends and summer days.
“Our parents took us here so that we could be surrounded by people like us on a regular basis,” said Chamba, 21. “It’s definitely a house, although neither of us grew up here.”
Now she said, âWe don’t see each other anymore. ”
Luckett and Chamba were back in the neighborhood on Saturday, joining about 1,000 others in Seattle to celebrate June 10, the feast marking the day of 1865 when, two years after the emancipation proclamation, enslaved blacks in Galveston, Texas , learned that they were free.
âIt’s important that we come out here to represent our culture and let people know that we are here to stay,â said Luckett, 22.
As the holiday gained unprecedented national significance this year, Seattle organizers set a tone of both celebration and resistance, honoring the history of the city’s gentrifying Central District and making requests for the present. and the future.
Due to a racist housing policy, Seattle’s black population has long been concentrated in the Central District, but today the area is only about 15% black and the home ownership rate is Black ownership in King County fell.
âToday it’s about breaking the loop,â said Isaac Joy, president of King County Equity Now, which hosted the event with Africatown Community Land Trust. “We’ve been in a century-long endless loop of really toothless, piecemeal proposals and policies aimed at sounding good and appeasing a largely white base without any real change or making lasting improvement. in black communities. â
The sound of the Washington Diamonds drill crew and the Electronettes Hi-Steppers drill crew filled the 23rd Avenue hallway as walkers poured south from the legendary DeCharlene’s Beauty Salon to Jimi Hendrix Park.
Rita Green wore a red T-shirt with a photo of her late mother, DeCharlene Williams, who owned the salon, founded the Central Area Chamber of Commerce and hosted the Juneteenth celebrations.
“She was the one who brought him here and we keep him going,” Green said.
With an increase in attention to the holidays this year, Barb Tiller, 76, decided to attend the walk for the first time.
For much of her life, Tiller said she had heard little about the holidays.
âThere was nothing taught at school,â Tiller said. âThere was no black history.
Chamba and Luckett, both involved in their black student unions, said they hope that beyond becoming a national holiday, Juneteenth will gain the same respect and understanding from other holidays.
âI was not free on July 4th. I am not celebrating this day. It’s not for me, âChamba said.
While waiting for the march to begin, Erica Mallett, 32, said she was struck by the “juxtaposition” of the day as lawmakers increasingly banned teaching critical race theory in schools. schools.
âWe made it a federal holiday, but we also ban very important work that helps us decompress systemic racism,â Mallett said.
âWe have to remember our history,â she said.
At the stops along the 23, the organizers called Seattle and King County will allocate $ 300 million from recent federal stimulus packages to black-led housing and health care efforts, like plan Tubman Center for Health and Freedom, the Africatown Community Land Trust project William Grose Center for Cultural Innovation and Enterprise to support black-owned businesses at Fire Hall 6 and others.
âThis generational fundraising moment – how did it happen? Joy, of King County Equity Now, spoke about federal stimulus funding. “Because Stacey Abrams and Blacks organized in Georgia.
Along the course, Ajibu Timbo, 35, stood with his 2-year-old son on his hip, watching the crowds go by. The family came from their home to the neighborhood to watch after celebrating his wife’s birthday, said Timbo, who left Sierra Leone for the United States in 2014.
âI want to show them the culture, the different kinds of black roots and customs,â Timbo said of his 5 and 2 year old sons.
At 23 and Jackson, a crowd gathered in lawn chairs to encourage the march; others looked at apartments above. At Jimi Hendrix Park, dozens of stalls dotted the grass for a “celebration of the struggle for black freedom, black power, the arts, business, joy, security and more” that took place. is extended into the sunny afternoon.
âIt’s beautiful,â Mallett said at the start of the march as the drum line played. âBlacks are beautiful. This day is beautiful. I hope we will continue to celebrate beauty and also hardships. I know I’m going. “
Information from the Seattle Times archives has been included.