Jun 19, 2024

Celebrating Juneteenth in Oregon

Written By: Clackamas Workforce Partnership

The Significance of Juneteenth in Oregon’s History

While Oregon was admitted to the Union as a free state in 1859, it has a complex and often troubling history concerning race relations. The state’s original constitution included exclusion laws that prohibited Black people from living in Oregon, reflecting the pervasive racial discrimination of the time – with some of this language remaining in the constitution until 2002. These laws were eventually repealed, but the legacy of these early policies has had a lasting impact on the state’s demographics and culture.

For some, the celebration of Juneteenth represents more than just the end of slavery; it is an opportunity to acknowledge and address the complex past of our state and our country. Some may use this time to reflect on the ongoing struggles for racial equity and justice, while also recognizing the contributions of Black individuals to the cultural, economic, and political development of the United States and the State of Oregon.

Workforce Inclusion and Diversity

Clackamas Workforce Partnership strives to foster a more inclusive and diverse workforce. By celebrating Juneteenth, our organization can underscore its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This celebration provides an opportunity for employers and employees alike to engage in meaningful conversations about race, understand the historical context of current social issues, and promote a more inclusive work environment.

Juneteenth is more than just a historical milestone; it is a vibrant celebration of freedom, resilience, and community. In Clackamas County, celebrating Juneteenth can be a step towards acknowledging the past, informing the present, and inspiring the future. This can be a day to honor the contributions of Black individuals within our community, while continuing to work towards a more just and equitable world.

Want to learn more? Juneteenth is a pivotal moment in American history, and to fully understand and appreciate the significance of Juneteenth, engaging with books, articles, documentaries and other material can be very useful. There are many works of non-fiction and fiction, for both adults and youth, that discuss this historical event and other related content. A great resource for learning more includes the Smithsonian’s National Institute of African American History & Culture; the Oregon Historical Society website/archives; and the Oregon Black Pioneers.

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