Anchorage will celebrate Juneteenth with two days of activities in Delaney Park. The event will feature guest speakers, a pageant, music, dance performances and food vendors.
Juneteenth commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. While the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted in 1863, it was not enforced in Texas until 1865. On June 19, 1865, a union general informed Texans that all slaves were free.
Jasmin Smith is the lead event coordinator for Juneteenth Anchorage. She says Juneteenth is an opportunity for the Black community to celebrate how far they’ve come.
“The whole idea of Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom, recognizing that someone had to work for well over a year before realizing that they were free,” she said. “On Juneteenth, we celebrate how far we’ve come, our successes as a community and the work we still have left to do.”
Juneteenth became a federal holiday last year, after years of advocacy. Smith says it was a big step for the country.
“I’d be super, double excited if it was also a state of Alaska holiday as well, so hopefully that will be our next goal,” she said. “Then everyone in our state will be able to enjoy it together, no matter what day of the week it falls on.”
Anchorage’s two-day celebration begins on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. with a rally. The Anchorage Museum will also have free admission on Sunday in honor of the holiday.
Smith says other Juneteenth events are being held online and in-person in Homer, Fairbanks and Juneau.