Amid an Uprising, Portland’s Juneteenth Rallies Take on New Resonance

The day’s events expanded into a celebration of Black lives in all quadrants.

M'Munga "Monga" Songolo, one of the youth organizers for the Juneteenth rally at Terry Shrunk Plaza. (Alex Wittwer)

As the Juneteenth holiday coincided with protests of racism and police violence, Black Portlanders rejoiced, mourned and organized in the city's parks, streets and bridges.

At least a half-dozen marches were held across the city, some overlapping. The day began with the image of a toppled statue of George Washington, a slaveholder, along Northeast Sandy Boulevard. It expanded into a celebration of Black lives in all quadrants.

Juneteenth, a holiday honoring slavery's end, has gained new recognition from Portland's establishment this year, amid a national uprising against police killings of Black people. Multnomah County and the city of Portland made it a paid holiday for public sector workers, and Gov. Kate Brown has pledged to name Juneteenth an annual state holiday.

Among today's events: a rally along the Willamette waterfront that marched to Terry Schrunk Plaza, across from City Hall.

Sierra Boyne, crowned Miss Juneteenth, was one of many speakers at the demonstration.

"I will breathe for every Black body that was slain in the streets," she said, addressing the crowd.

The rally included dancing and songs—including "Lift Every Voice and Sing," the Black national anthem—alongside determination and sorrow. A chant that has become common at Portland marches, "Say her name," was today filled with a new name: Tete Gulley, who was found dead hanging from a tree at Rocky Butte on May 27, 2019.

These photos show a small slice of today's events.

Kai Ingram spoke to the crowd about the injustices Black Americans face. (Alex Wittwer)
(Alex Wittwer)
BIPOC demonstrators were asked to join in the center of the plaza to dance. A boy stole the show with his moves. (Alex Wittwer)
(Alex Wittwer)
(Alex Wittwer)

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