SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash., June 20, 2022 – Today, in an historic first, the Juneteenth flag is flying at the Snohomish County Government campus. This comes just days after Governor Jay Inslee, along with members of Blacks United in Leadership and Diversity (BUILD), held the State’s official first Juneteenth flag raising ceremony on the State Capitol Campus in Olympia last Wednesday.
On June 13, the Snohomish County Council unanimously approved a proclamation recognizing June 19, 2022, as Juneteenth Independence Day in Snohomish County. Located at the county’s War Memorial, Snohomish County is now the first county within Washington state to officially fly the Juneteenth flag thanks to the efforts of County Executive Dave Somers, County Councilmen Sam Low and Jared Mead, and Washington State Senator John Lovick. Monroe Mayor Geoffrey Thomas and wife Lara Thomas donated the traditional Juneteenth flag for today’s ceremony.
The County along with many municipalities across Washington state observed today, June 20, as a legal holiday. Others attending today’s ceremony were Lake Stevens Councilman Shawn Frederick, Mukilteo Councilman Louis Harris, Ben Young of the Communities of Color Coalition, and Karen Anderson with the Snohomish County Executive Office.
Last year, the Washington State Legislature approved HB 1016, sponsored by State Representative Melanie Morgan (D-Parkland), to establish Juneteenth as a legal state holiday. It was then signed into law by Governor Inslee on May 13, 2021, just over a month before the U.S. Congress passed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, that established June 19 as the 12th U.S. public legal holiday. The federal bill was signed into law by President Joe Biden on June 17, 2021.
Former Snohomish County Executive and now state senator John Lovick (D-Mill Creek), shared during his remarks at today’s ceremony that residents are eager to learn more about Juneteenth.
“I am learning that people want to know more about Juneteenth,” said Lovick. “It is events like this that will help us all learn more.”
Lovick shared with the Lynnwood Times his personal connection to Juneteenth. His great great grandfather Thomas Holden was born between 1860 and 1863, years before the enslaved people in Texas were informed of General Order No. 3 by General Gordon Granger that slavery was abolished, and they were free.
“He [Holden] was born into slavery and in essence died into slavery,” Lovick said. “From the time of the Emancipation Proclamation until he died in 1965, there were still a lot of discrepancies in the United States of America.
“What I enjoyed about him was that he was able to share so many stories with us that meant so much to us. One that just breaks my heart and breaks my heart today was that he was the last born to his parents. But he had brothers and sisters that he never met. So, it’s our believe that his brothers and sisters who were born before him in 1863, were probably sold into slavery.”
Councilman Mead (D-Mill Creek) is proud for the county recognizing Juneteenth and the many contributions Black and African Americans have made to the United States.
“Being the first year that our county is officially celebrating it [Juneteenth] and doing it on the Monday we are recognizing the holiday is great,” Councilman Mead told the Lynnwood Times. “I am excited we were able to make it work. It is a monumental occasion for Snohomish County.”
Councilman Sam Low (R-Lake Stevens) added that he is also proud that the county is recognizing the horrors millions of African slaves endured and the injustices to their descendants.
“I definitely think it will be a tradition,” Councilman Low said. “I want to thank Executive Somers for allowing us to do this.”
“It is really good to see that as a nation we are now recognizing Juneteenth as a national and state holiday,” personally speaking, Mukilteo Councilman and First Vice President of the Snohomish County NAACP, Louis Harris said during today’s ceremony. “I just hope all the folks that are enjoying their day off are taking the time to remember the fights that have taken us to get to this day and the bright future we all have for each other going forward.”
Over the Juneteenth weekend, Senator Lovick attended a few events and spoke on the phone with his mother to reflect upon the sacrifices made by so many for the fight of equality.
“Celebrating by remembering the great great things that people did and the shoulders we stood on, not just my mom but like Congressman John Lewis who had to really fight these battles that allow us to celebrate a day like this,” Lovick said.
“Juneteenth is a time of celebration, but it is also a great time to remember the shoulders that we all stood on to get where we are today.”
Excerpt from “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou:
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.