Seattle jazz guitarist Michael Powers performs during the sixth annual Juneteenth festival hosted by Kent Black Action Commission at Morrill Meadows Park last Saturday. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Community celebrates Juneteenth in the park | PHOTOS

The historic plight of Black America often reduces Charlie James to tears.

“I can’t talk about black folks without crying … it’s just that deep for me,” James, a longtime Seattle activist and community organizer, told the crowd at the Juneteenth celebration and festival at Kent’s Morrill Meadows Park last Saturday.

“You are the most unique racial group this planet may have ever seen,” he said. “We have just scratched the surface of our ability.”

James was the keynote speaker for the event, a community-wide celebration that commemorates African-American freedom. Kent Black Action Commission (KBAC) presented the sixth annual festival – a full day of guest speakers, music, prayer, dance, food and vendors.

Seattle jazz guitarist Michael Powers returned for the second straight year to headline the entertainment.

Juneteenth marks an important day in African-American history. It has been 152 years since the word of the signing, on Sept. 22, 1862, of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. Each year on or about June 19, celebrations take place throughout the United States to remember and pay homage to the historic day. It is the oldest, nationally-celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the country.

Juneteenth’s impact is not lost on James, who has seen life from the bottom.

Born on a sharecropping farm in Missouri, James was one of 12 children raised in Michigan. A struggling student in his youth, he blossomed into a scholar, eventually moving to Seattle in 1971 to attend the University of Washington. He has been involved in activism and community work ever since.

James reminded the crowd that it is important for the black community to be heard and understood, reiterating the historical significance of their achievements and the fact that a majority of African Americans are native to America.

Black America’s best days are still ahead, he said, recognizing the fact that many generations have confronted and overcame problems of discrimination and inequity. Those challenges, those advancements in society continue today.

“We don’t get enough information about us. We talk about what we should do. We talk about what we have not done, but we really don’t talk about us,” James said. “The most important thing about getting things done is to have a clear idea about who you are. You’ve got to have an idea about what makes you who you are.”

For James, co-founder at Martin Luther King County Advocacy and Motivational Program and founder of Martin Luther King Memorial Park, the work continues. James is also a researcher, historian and writer who is proud of his heritage and the many people he represents and touches.

Charlie James, Seattle activist and community organizer, speaks to the crowd at the Juneteenth celebration and festival at Kent’s Morrill Meadows Park last Saturday. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Leonard Howze, of the Buffalo Soldiers of Seattle, salutes during opening ceremonies. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Gwen Allen-Carston, businesswoman and KBAC executive director, addresses the crowd. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Children sail down a slide. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

The historic plight of Black America often reduces Charlie James to tears. “I can’t talk about black folks without crying … it’s just that deep for me,” James, a longtime Seattle activist and community organizer, told the crowd at the Juneteenth celebration and festival at Kent’s Morrill Meadows Park last Saturday. “You are the most […]

The historic plight of Black America often reduces Charlie James to tears. “I can’t talk about black folks without crying … it’s just that deep for me,” James, a longtime Seattle activist and community organizer, told the crowd at the Juneteenth celebration and festival at Kent’s Morrill Meadows Park last Saturday. “You are the most […]

More in News

Kent City Council seeks volunteers to write pro, con statements about police ballot measure

City leaders plan to put proposal in front of voters on April 24

Keiser, Senate Democrats push safety for sanitation workers

By Alex Visser/WNPA Olympia News Bureau The legacy of Martin Luther King,… Continue reading

Kent gets another grant to extend new 132nd Avenue pedestrian path

Project will go from SE 248th Street to SE 240th Street

Fain, Sullivan talk legislative shop at Good Eggs gathering

District 47 lawmakers discuss some key issues facing Olympia this session

State lawmakers re-consider eliminating statute of limitations on sex crimes

By Taylor McAvoy/WNPA Olympia News Bureau A bill passed in the State… Continue reading

City of Kent receives Excellence in Financial Reporting honor

Finance director calls award ‘highest form of recognition’

Working to put a stop to human sex trafficking

Advocate teams with police, other partners to help victims

Sam’s Club locations in Auburn, Renton, Seattle abruptly close

Move comes on the heels of an increase in worker pay and benefits at the company’s Walmart stores

Most Read