Atlantic Street Center and Creative Justice host community and youth-oriented events.

by Patheresa Wells


For the past few weeks, Seattle has been hopping with numerous Juneteenth celebrations. Since the formation of the official national holiday in 2021, the South End has been home to many events honoring the emancipation of Black Americans. Atlantic Street Center’s Annual Celebration and Creative Justice’s youth-driven events show that smaller, community-focused events are an important aspect of honoring the meaning behind the holiday. These events show the different aspects of Seattle’s Juneteenth celebrations; some have been held for decades, and others are newly focused on bringing a youth-led element to the tradition. 

On June 22, the Atlantic Street Center hosted its 23rd annual event observing Juneteenth at the Rainier Beach Community Center, featuring local vendors, performances, and family-friendly activities. Two days earlier, on June 20, Creative Justice held a youth-driven gathering at the historic Washington Hall. Bringing multiple generations together with food, music, and fun ensures the cultural pride behind the holiday is passed on to youth. 

Photo by Patheresa Wells
Juneteenth 2024
Creative Justice Juneteenth Celebration, June 20, 2024
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Creative Justice Community Supports Director Travonna Thompson-Wiley shares artwork made by youth in the BASE arts program. (Photo: Patheresa Wells)

” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4163.jpg?fit=225%2C300&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4163.jpg?fit=474%2C632&ssl=1″ tabindex=”0″ role=”button” src=”https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4163.jpg?resize=474%2C632&ssl=1″ alt=”Creative Justice Community Supports Director Travonna Thompson-Wiley shares artwork made by youth in the BASE arts program.” class=”wp-image-116276″ srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4163.jpg?resize=768%2C1024&ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4163.jpg?resize=225%2C300&ssl=1 225w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4163.jpg?resize=113%2C150&ssl=1 113w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4163.jpg?resize=600%2C800&ssl=1 600w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4163.jpg?resize=450%2C600&ssl=1 450w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4163.jpg?resize=300%2C400&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4163.jpg?resize=150%2C200&ssl=1 150w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4163.jpg?w=900&ssl=1 900w” sizes=”(max-width: 474px) 100vw, 474px” data-recalc-dims=”1″>

Creative Justice Community Supports Director Travonna Thompson-Wiley shares artwork made by youth in the BASE arts program. (Photo: Patheresa Wells)

Keeping in line with Creative Justice’s mission of using art to examine racism and oppression, the day featured work by young people enrolled in one of its many programs. The space inside Washington Hall featured tables with zines, visual artwork, and textile arts. Attendees could purchase tea and hair and body care products made in the Creative Economies Makerspace program. Loving Room Diaspora Books + Salon was onsite with a pop-up lending library. 

Photo by Patheresa Wells
Juneteenth 2024
Creative Justice Juneteenth Celebration, June 20, 2024
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Double Dutch Divas got attendees at the youth-driven Creative Justice event to jump with Juneteenth joy. (Photo: Patheresa Wells)

” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4168.jpg?fit=225%2C300&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4168.jpg?fit=474%2C632&ssl=1″ tabindex=”0″ role=”button” src=”https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4168.jpg?resize=474%2C632&ssl=1″ alt=”Double Dutch Divas got attendees at the youth-driven Creative Justice event to jump with Juneteenth joy.” class=”wp-image-116277″ srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4168.jpg?resize=768%2C1024&ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4168.jpg?resize=225%2C300&ssl=1 225w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4168.jpg?resize=113%2C150&ssl=1 113w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4168.jpg?resize=600%2C800&ssl=1 600w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4168.jpg?resize=450%2C600&ssl=1 450w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4168.jpg?resize=300%2C400&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4168.jpg?resize=150%2C200&ssl=1 150w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4168.jpg?w=900&ssl=1 900w” sizes=”(max-width: 474px) 100vw, 474px” data-recalc-dims=”1″>

Double Dutch Divas got attendees at the youth-driven Creative Justice event to jump with Juneteenth joy. (Photo: Patheresa Wells)

The excitement outside was infectious as young people hopped in a giant bouncy house or tried to keep pace with the Double Dutch Divas. Vendors from local businesses offered art, home goods, and tasty baked goods. Plus, the event provided numerous opportunities for attendees to access a hot meal from the grill, grab an outfit at the clothing swap, or receive many mutual aid options, such as non-perishable food. 

The Seahawks cheerleaders were on site to spread some enthusiasm during a dance performance that brought smiles to the faces of the students pouring into the parking lot party as they got out of school. 

Attendee Trinitee’ said the Juneteenth holiday is about “Black people being able to come together as a community, outgrowing all of the oppression that we’ve been through, and coming together to build each other up.” 

Trinitee’ came to the event with her friend A’ Blessing. As the two young women enjoyed jump roping, laughing, and engaging in conversation, they showed how providing Juneteenth events for young people is an important aspect of fostering a positive cultural identity in Black youth.

“To me, Juneteenth means rebuilding our love with each other through coming together, barbecuing, having fun, and just being ourselves,” A’ Blessing added. 

Two days later, the lawn of the Rainier Beach Community Center was the site of the Atlantic Street Event, which has been going on since 2001. Featuring a resource fair, raffles, performances, and family-friendly activities focused on Black excellence, the day was filled with joy. Each attendee received a ticket for a free food item from one of three food vendors, King’s Catering, Soul Fusion, and Big Dawgs Hot Dogs. As the sun heated up the day, folks were also given a ticket for a free sorbet from Seattle Sorbets

Photo by Patheresa Wells
Juneteenth 2024
23rd Annual Atlantic Center Juneteenth Celebration, June 22, 2024
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Vendors lined the circular plaza outside the Rainier Beach Community Center with offerings of art, clothing, plants, and household goods. (Photo: Patheresa Wells)

” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/image000005.jpg?fit=300%2C226&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/image000005.jpg?fit=474%2C357&ssl=1″ tabindex=”0″ role=”button” src=”https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/image000005.jpg?resize=474%2C357&ssl=1″ alt=”Vendors lined the circular plaza outside the Rainier Beach Community Center with offerings of art, clothing, plants, and household goods.” class=”wp-image-116275″ srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/image000005.jpg?resize=1024%2C771&ssl=1 1024w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/image000005.jpg?resize=300%2C226&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/image000005.jpg?resize=150%2C113&ssl=1 150w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/image000005.jpg?resize=768%2C579&ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/image000005.jpg?resize=400%2C300&ssl=1 400w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/image000005.jpg?resize=200%2C150&ssl=1 200w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/image000005.jpg?w=1200&ssl=1 1200w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/image000005.jpg?w=948&ssl=1 948w” sizes=”(max-width: 474px) 100vw, 474px” data-recalc-dims=”1″>

Vendors lined the circular plaza outside the Rainier Beach Community Center with offerings of art, clothing, plants, and household goods. (Photo: Patheresa Wells)

Performances included the Chief Sealth Cheerleading squad, spoken word from Nakeya Isabell, and iBuildBridges youth musicians. Skate Like a Girl provided skateboarding demonstrations, and the plaza was filled with giant lawn games, like Connect 4. Detective Cookie’s Chess Club was in attendance to encourage youth to develop a love for learning chess. 

KeeSha Matthews, plant mom and owner of Live Plants Are Life, was there sharing her passion for plants with attendees and providing knowledge and products focused on expressing creativity through plant cultivation.

Photo by Patheresa Wells
Juneteenth 2024
23rd Annual Atlantic Center Juneteenth Celebration, June 22, 2024
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Live Plants Are Life owner KeeSha Matthews tended her booth, which included plant-care products. Juneteenth was her first experience tabling at a community event. (Photo: Patheresa Wells)

” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4201.jpg?fit=225%2C300&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4201.jpg?fit=474%2C632&ssl=1″ tabindex=”0″ role=”button” src=”https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4201.jpg?resize=474%2C632&ssl=1″ alt=”Live Plants Are Life owner KeeSha Matthews tending her booth, which included plant-care products.” class=”wp-image-116278″ srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4201.jpg?w=900&ssl=1 900w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4201.jpg?resize=225%2C300&ssl=1 225w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4201.jpg?resize=768%2C1024&ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4201.jpg?resize=113%2C150&ssl=1 113w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4201.jpg?resize=600%2C800&ssl=1 600w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4201.jpg?resize=450%2C600&ssl=1 450w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4201.jpg?resize=300%2C400&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/IMG_4201.jpg?resize=150%2C200&ssl=1 150w” sizes=”(max-width: 474px) 100vw, 474px” data-recalc-dims=”1″>

Live Plants Are Life owner KeeSha Matthews tended her booth, which included plant-care products. Juneteenth was her first experience tabling at a community event. (Photo: Patheresa Wells)

“I’m here today at Juneteenth because it means so much to me to celebrate where I come from and to show the community what [Live Plants Are Life] can do for the community,” Matthews said. The event was her first time tabling as a vendor, and her Root Juice Root Stimulator, used to create strong roots, was a popular product with those stopping by the booth. 

Both the Atlantic Street Center and the Creative Justice events illustrated how building deep-rooted connections is essential in inspiring cultural heritage. As Juneteenth continues to spread from being a holiday celebrated primarily within the African American community to one that is nationally observed, these smaller community-centric events play a crucial role in recognizing and strengthening the cultural and historical significance of the Juneteenth holiday.


Patheresa Wells is a poet, writer, and storyteller who lives in SeaTac, Washington. Born to a Black mother and Persian father, her experiences as a multicultural child in Oklahoma shaped her desire to use her voice to advocate for and amplify her community. She currently attends Highline College in Des Moines with plans to transfer to UW-Seattle next fall. Writing is her third career started at the beginning of the pandemic after putting it aside since childhood. In June her poem “Nomenclature” was chosen as the spoken word First Prize in the Juneteenth Artist Collective held by the Northwest African American Museum and the Space Needle. Follow her on Twitter @PatheresaWells.
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Patheresa Wells

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Patheresa Wells is a queer poet, writer, and storyteller who lives in SeaTac, Washington. Born to a Black mother and Persian father, her experiences as a multicultural child shaped her desire to advocate for and amplify her community. She is currently pursuing a B.A. in creative writing. Follow her on Twitter @PatheresaWells.

📸 Featured Image: Attendees of the 23rd Annual Atlantic Center Juneteenth Celebration line up to try one of the food vendors serving barbecue and soul food. (Photo: Patheresa Wells)

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