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Nationwide, Institutions Prepare to Celebrate and Educate on Juneteenth


While the holiday itself falls on Wednesday, June 19, the teams at the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC), a consortium of seven, two-year, public institutions serving the city, are already hard at work preparing for their Juneteenth celebrations.

“Juneteenth marks our country’s second Independence Day,” said David A. Sanders, president of Malcolm X College, a CCC institution on the west side of Chicago. Celebrating the holiday as a college “means everything,” he added.

David A. Sanders, president of Malcolm X College in Chicago.David A. Sanders, president of Malcolm X College in Chicago.“We are a community anchor and have a direct impact on the communities we serve,” said Sanders. “It is always important that we translate the importance of events to the next generation, so we encourage everyone to talk about the significance of Juneteenth.”

The day has its historical roots in Texas, just south of Houston. On June 19, 1865, those enslaved in the state were freed when Union troops arrived at Galveston Island. It has been nationally recognized as a holiday since a 2021 declaration by President Joe Biden. But the makings of a national Juneteenth holiday took decades of pressure from activists and policy makers. Now, institutions across the U.S. are finding ways to celebrate the holiday and connect it with other critically important issues within the Black community.

Malcolm X’s Juneteenth celebrations start bright and early on Saturday, June 22 and feature events that target community health, wellness, justice, economic development, education, and even features a blood drive. The day was created in partnership with Cook County and its 2nd District Commissioner Dennis Deer.

While the Saturday gathering will be for the whole community, internal CCC events will happen on Tuesday, June 18. Nearby institutions Wilbur Wright College and Harold Washington College will host a reflection ceremony and an afternoon viewing and discussion of the movie “Miss Juneteenth,” a 2020 drama about a pageant hosted at a historically Black college.

On the West Coast, The California State University (CSU) will host its second biennial livestream events, June 13-14. Speakers include Nikole Hannah-Jones, author of the ground-breaking 1619 Project and Knight Chair in Race and Journalism at Howard University, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, director of the Boston University Center for Anti-Racist Research, and others. The events will begin in the morning and run through the afternoon on both days.

Ohio University (OHIO) in Athens County, Ohio, is inviting children and adults of all ages to attend a Wednesday baseball game, where the Southeastern Ohio Copperheads will be sponsored by OHIO’s Division of Diversity and Inclusion. On Saturday, the college will open its campus for a Black history walking tour from 10 a.m. until noon, followed by an afternoon of music, food, vendors, and children’s activities.

“We recognize the importance of this day in American history and are committed to honoring its significance each year—it is a reminder of our nation’s mistakes, challenges, opportunities, and successes,” said Dr. Russell Morrow, interim vice president of the Division of Diversity and Inclusion at OHIO. “[Our] celebration is also a reminder to remember and reflect on our country’s past and to actively engage in our country’s present to ensure a future of freedom, justice, and equity across the globe.”

Black Banner, by Morgan Renee Hill, winner of MSU's Juneteenth art contest.Black Banner, by Morgan Renee Hill, winner of MSU's Juneteenth art contest.Michigan State University (MSU) will host its fourth year of celebrations on Friday, June 14, in coordination with Lansing, MI’s Juneteenth festivities. MSU is calling their event “Acknowledging the Journey: Freedom, Resilience, Empowerment, and Liberation,” which includes a mini “Black Wall Street” vendor fair featuring over 40 Black-owned businesses, gospel performances, jazz music, and illustrator Tim Fielder, who will discuss how he is bringing W.E.B. Du Bois’s Afrofuturist work “The Comet” to life through a graphic novel.

MSU emphasizes art and creation at their event with a themed contest, won this year by their Master of Fine Arts candidate Morgan Renee Hill, whose ink piece “Black Banner” represents both visibility and invisibility within a black and white world.

“This year’s Juneteenth celebration coincides with the anniversaries of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, marking a momentous occasion,” said MSU Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Jabbar R. Bennett. “Through this event, we celebrate our civil human rights, and inspire meaningful conversations that raise awareness and promote greater inclusion.”

Liann Herder can be reached at [email protected].

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