Idaho’s Black communities celebrate Juneteenth with joy, food, dance and community
Celebrations were planned throughout the Gem State, including Boise, Twin Falls, Lapwai and Rexburg
With live performances, local vendors, food and dance, community members gathered in celebration for the fourth annual “Family Function” Juneteenth event on Saturday at Julia Davis Park in downtown Boise.
For a weekend of celebration, Juneteenth Idaho and the Black Liberation Collective partnered with local organizations and Black-owned businesses such as The Honey Pot CBD, 2C Yoga, Honey’s Holistics, Cut-N-Up, Amina’s African Sambusas, among many others.
Last year, the state and federal government signed a law designating June 19 — known as Juneteenth — as an official holiday. Though it was declared a public holiday only as of last year, Juneteenth has historically been celebrated by Black communities across the country to honor the emancipation of enslaved African Americans during the end of the Civil War.
“On June 19, 1865 — over two years after President (Abraham) Lincoln declared all enslaved people free — Maj. General Gordon Granger and Union Army troops marched to Galveston, Texas
to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation and free the last enslaved Black Americans in Texas,” the federal proclamation declaring the date a federal holiday said.
Concerns after Patriot Front arrests in North Idaho
Community organizers expressed safety concerns for the Juneteenth event after a group of men from the white nationalist group Patriot Front appeared in Coeur d’Alene the day of a Pride event.
The Patriot Front members were arrested on June 11 for conspiracy to riot after a 911 caller alerted the police to a group of men crowding inside in a U-Haul truck. Nonprofit leaders participating in the Boise Juneteenth event expressed their personal thoughts on the incident.
There was a shared sense of sadness, fear and tragedy among the leaders who ran booths on Juneteenth. However, some expressed a sense of gratitude toward those who stopped the potential riot.
Despite the recent events in North Idaho, this year’s community-wide Juneteenth celebration represents Black residents’ ability to grow and uplift their close-knit community in the state.
Juneteenth organizer, Claire-Marie Owens, returned to Idaho after spending 12 years away. She lived in Paris, New York and Dallas, but she decided to come back. Has she considered leaving Idaho permanently because of feeling unwelcome? No. Her identity as a Black woman and an Idaho resident is who she is.
“My mom’s family has been here for five generations. Idaho is where I am from. It is where I love and where I want to be,” Owens said.