Juneteenth joyfully celebrated in Powellhurst-Gilbert

See why Leroy Barber – also known as Black Santa – hosted this outer East Portland gathering near the foot of Powell Butte, on June 19 …

In the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood, a Juneteenth commemoration is underway.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

There were many Juneteenth celebrations around the nation held on June 19; but the only one we know of in East Portland was in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood, on the block on which Leroy Barber lives. He’s also known as Portland’s own Black Santa.

Learning about Juneteenth
Juneteenth also historically known as Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, and Black Independence Day – and it commemorates the emancipation of African-American slaves in Texas – about two years after others were freed. President Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation issued on January 1, 1863.

However, the Emancipation Proclamation was slow to be put in effect in Texas, it started to be instated there by 1865. Juneteenth is believed to have originated in Galveston, Texas, it has been celebrated annually on June 19, as it has in various parts of the United States since. The ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution which constitutionally abolished chattel slavery, nationwide, on December 6, 1865.

Now officially a US Federal holiday, Juneteenth National Independence Day is to be celebrated each June 19th.

That’s what Barber told East Portland News about Juneteenth, as he was grilling chicken, burgers, and sausages for guests.

Organizing this Juneteenth block party is Leroy Barber, here, busy at the grill.

“To celebrate this wonderful day, we decided to host this gathering,” Barber smiled. “We started off the day watching a memorial program honoring of Alonzo Tucker; he was a black man who was lynched in Oregon in 1902.

“Now, we have a car wash going; we have food; we have our Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association represented here – and we’re supporting black businesses, a local T-shirt company, and we’re grateful for local the wineries which have given a couple prizes for our raffles!”

Here’s DJ G-Natural – when he’s not rocking a party, he goes by Jelani Greenidge – and this time he’s providing tunes at a Juneteenth gathering.

Helping out at the raffle booth is Donna Barber.

Other than the activity at the car wash, folks were relaxing in shaded areas, talking amongst one another, and having a delightful and casual afternoon.

“I’m so glad to see so many friends and neighbors coming out to celebrate Juneteenth, here with us today,” Barber remarked, as he turned back to his grilling activities.

© 2021 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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