WWU Juneteenth Celebration

Reflect. Act. Celebrate.


June 16, 2023

Flag Plaza
11 a.m. - 1 p.m.


Juneteenth flag, a five point white star outlined by a 12 point starburst over a curved field of blue and red

Join us for community, food, and celebration of Juneteenth. During this celebration we will hear reflections from Dr. Jacqueline Hughes, the singing of the Black National Anthem, hear from Nia Gipson and students from the Black Student Coalition, and raise the Juneteenth flag.

Juneteenth, or “Freedom Day” is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. This holiday is considered the “longest running African-American holiday” and has been called “America’s second Independence Day.” It was on June 19, 1865, that Union soldiers, led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, landed in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and that all enslaved people were free.

The first Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, praying and gathering remaining family members together. For decades, Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date. In the early years, there was little interest outside the African American community in participating in the celebrations. Some communities even barred the use of public property for the festivities.

Since its origin in Galveston, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the U.S. and beyond. Today Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas, a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the future.

In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today. Sensitized to the conditions and experiences of each other, only then can we make significant and lasting improvements in our society.

Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth



A dark brown fist rises through a tri-colored band of colors; red, yellow and green,
Thursday, June 15, 2023

All Ages Block Party Between Holly and Magnolia

Commercial Street Block Party

6 p.m. - 9 p.m.


Black Student Coalition
Friday, June 16, 2023

WWU Flag Plaza

Juneteenth Celebration: Reflect - Act - Celebrate

11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Presented by Western's Black Student Coalition & Office of Equity


Friday, June 16, 2023

Bellingham City Hall

Juneteenth Flag Raising

1 p.m.

City of Bellingham


Green yellow and red color splashes on a black background
Saturday, June 17, 2023

Maritime Heritage Park

Juneteenth Freedom Day Celebration
2 - 6 p.m.

Sponsored by the Bellingham Unity Committee


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Saturday, June 17, 2023

Boulevard Park

Juneteenth Celebration
2 p.m. – 6 p.m

Presented by Miraculous Eventz and Miracle Jones

Other Ways to Celebrate

Tour the Senses of Freedom Collection

Explore the Tastes, Sounds and Experiences of an African American Celebration at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Watch the Tastes of Resilience to learn the symbolism of red foods, and listen to Sounds of Freedom celebrating the ways slaves sung their way to freedom.

Learn the History

Learn more about Juneteenth: watch the PBS series: Juneteenth Jamboree, or watch Just Mercy: a film based on the life work of civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson that focuses on the systematic racism in our society.

Research your Family's History

With help from the Black Heritage Society of Washington State, learn about your family's history and honor the tradition of early Juneteenth celebrations when Black Texans gathered to try to locate missing relatives, and then marked the day by holding family reunions. 

Attend a Virtual Literary Festival

Attend a free Juneteenth virtual literary festival offered by the New York Public Library on June 19, 2023.

Read with your Kids