Juneteenth celebrations return to Renton

The 5th Annual Juneteenth Celebration will be at four different locations in Renton.

Renton’s Juneteenth celebrations are returning this weekend with barbeques, speeches, performances, the BOBE Inaugural Juneteenth Royal Ball, and more.

“It started about four years ago with the Renton African American Pastors and the Renton police department. We wanted to cultivate a relationship and that’s how we originally started it. This one is even more significant because we were able to bring in more people and businesses,” said Rev. Dr. Linda Smith, one of the coordinators for the events.

Starting on Saturday June 18 from 11:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. will be the Annual Community BBQ presented by former Seattle Seahawk Doug Baldwin and United Way of King County at the Renton Memorial Stadium.

There will be food, live music, dancing, family-friendly activities, and even bouncy houses and other inflatables. Tickets are still available for the event online and an RSVP is important to keep food waste down.

Less than a mile away from the community barbeque will be the Juneteenth celebration “And Still We Rise” at the Renton BLM mural on 302 Lake Street.

Going from noon to 7 p.m. on June 18, the event will feature speeches on different issues that impact Renton’s Black community, spoken word performances, local Black vendors and Black Love Market, a monthly market in Renton.

“We want to empower participants with different ways to rise,” said Smith. “This is significant because we’re celebrating on the BLM street that the city had approved for us last year. We want to highlight our accomplishments here in Renton.”

At Campbell Hill Elementary from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., the Renton School District is putting on a free Juneteenth Celebration and Festival where there will be several activities and booths. There will be a Kids Zone with face painting, games, and educational activities, a Health and Wellness area that will provide health and food services, a jobs fair, barbeque, concessions, an art walk, and many other services.

On Sunday June 19 at the Renton Pavilion Events Center, there will the now sold-out inaugural Juneteenth Royal Ball presented by Black-Owned Business Excellence in partnership with the Professional Women of Color Network. The royal ball will be from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and, according to the event website, the dress code is “Cultural Wakanda-Like Attire”, inspired by the 2018 superhero movie “Black Panther”, as well as other formal wear.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day where the country’s remaining slaves in Galveston, Texas were set free, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.

At the Renton city council meeting on June 13, where mayor Armondo Pavone officially proclaimed June 19, 2022 to be Juneteenth 2022, council member James Alberson Jr. accepted the proclamation and talked about his own connection to the holiday.

“My parents were born in Texas […] and I’ve known about Juneteenth all of my life, even though I grew up in Columbus, Ohio in the north, but, it wasn’t celebrated up in the north,” Alberson said. “I know that Juneteenth in Texas, for my mother, was always a big deal and unfortunately my mother passed away last year,and I wish that she could see that it’s become a federal holiday.”

The 2022 Annual Community BBQ will begin at 11 a.m. at the Renton Memorial Stadium. Photo courtesy of United Way of King County.