Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
After a proclamation from the mayor and months of planning by organizations, Washington Central Park will hold a Juneteenth Freedom Day celebration Saturday afternoon and evening.
The holiday celebrates the anniversary of General Order No. 3, in which federal troops found and freed the last Black slaves in Galveston Texas, and is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of slavery’s abolition in the United States, according to event organizer Dan Henderson.
“Juneteenth can be a unifying event,” Henderson said. “It’s going to be something that leads to racial healing, and that’s really the purpose.”
Henderson said that the event was important to celebrate in Washington, despite its primarily white demographic makeup.
“Even though Washington is a majority-white community, all Americans can celebrate the ending of slavery,” he said. “It’s important to show solidarity to our Black residents and help to make our community inclusive and welcoming to everyone.”
This is the first year with an official Juneteenth celebration in Washington. Henderson said it was made possible by recently formed organizations like Washington for Justice.
“Last year during the whole post-George Floyd incident, when there was a lot of activity nationwide, there were a lot events that took place here in Washington,” he said. “One of the results was Washington for Justice was formed.”
Henderson said the event will be free to the public and feature big names from across Iowa, including Iowa African American Museum of Iowa founder Thomas Moore and musician Kevin Burt. Henderson said these high-profile individuals were happy to bring Juneteenth to Washington.
“As we started to reach out to find other people to participate, there seemed to be a real enthusiasm for helping us here in Washington get this started,” Henderson said. “It’s been met with a lot of positive response, and I’m expecting that that will continue.”
The event will include family activities from 3-5 p.m., guest speakers until 6 p.m., and a Kevin Burt concert from 6-7:30 p.m. More information is available via the city event calendar.