What is the meaning of Juneteenth?

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Local University unites Utahn's together through virtual events to learn about African American culture

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – There’s a possibility that you’ve heard of Juneteenth, most recently several major corporations have announced that they will recognize Juneteenth as a company holiday.

A blending of the words June and nineteenth (Juneteenth) marks the celebration of the end of slavery. While many communities will hold month-long events commemorating Juneteenth, it was on June 19, 1865 when Union Maj. General Gordon Granger read the proclamation in Galveston, Texas notifying slaves of their emancipation from slavery in the United States.

READ: AP Explains: Juneteenth celebrates end of slavery in the US

Though it had been informally celebrated since 1865, it wasn’t until January 1, 1980 that Juneteenth became an actual state holiday in Texas. In Utah legislation was passed in 2016 to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday. Currently there are only four states, Hawaii, North/South Dakota and Montana that don’t recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday.

FILE – In this June 19, 2018, file photo, Zebiyan Fields, 11, at center, drums alongside more than 20 kids at the front of the Juneteenth parade in Flint, Mich. Juneteenth celebration started with the freed slaves of Galveston, Texas. Although the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in the South in 1863, it could not be enforced in many places until after the end of the Civil War in 1865. (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP, File)

Recent events surrounding the deaths of George Floyd, a black man killed by police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota as well as Breonna Taylor, a black woman killed in Louisville, Kentucky by officers in her own home while she was asleep have sparked outrage across the country resulting in protests. Weber State University invites Utahn’s to engage in African American history with the Utah Juneteenth Freedom and Heritage Festival, the theme this year is “United in Hope.

READ: Utahns gather in Ogden to protest the death of George Floyd

Betty Sawyer, WSU Access & Diversity community engagement coordinator said “We currently are experiencing issues around racism, inequality and discrimination. Without coming to terms with the legacy of slavery, and all of its byproducts, we spend more time denying than making meaningful progress dismantling those systems embodied within slavery and racism. Instead, we need to promote and do the work of justice and equality.”

The University hosts Juneteenth events annually. However, due to COVID-19 many of the community involved events will be held virutally.

READ: Mass gatherings can resume under updated ‘yellow’ phase guidelines

Tuesday June 16, 2020: Virtual Film Screening

Juneteenth participants can watch a 7:30 p.m. screening of the film “BOSS: The Black Experience in Business. Produced by Peabody & Emmy Award winning filmmaker, Stanley Nelson, the film examines more than 150 years of business experience of African American men and women. The stories range from individuals in bondage to multimillion-dollar moguls. Local business owners and members of the Utah Black Chamber will participate in a pre-film discussion beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Friday June 19, 2020: The State of Black Utah Town Hall

A virtual town hall will begin at 6 p.m. to discuss “Mind, Body & Spirit: Black Mental Health in the Midst of Crisis.” A thoughtful conversation will give youth, young adults and emerging leaders a chance to share how they are coping with racism and injustices.

From 8-9 p.m., watch the “Excellence in the Community Juneteenth Concert,” streaming live from the Gallivan Center.

Saturday, June 20, 2020: Commemorative Caravan 11 a.m

The community is invited to join a commemorative caravan on foot or in vehicles to celebrate and honor Juneteenth. Participants can line up for the caravan at 10 a.m. in front of the Marshall White Community Center (222 28th Street, Ogden).

From 8-9 p.m., watch the “Excellence in the Community Juneteenth Concert,” streaming live from the Gallivan Center.

Saturday, June 20, 2020: Virtual Festival and Celebration 2 p.m to 6 p.m

Facebook, Instagram and Zoom will have live dancing, drumming, gospel, hip hop, jazz, R & B and spoken-word performances. From 8-9 p.m., watch the “Excellence in the Community Juneteenth Concert,” streaming live from the Gallivan Center.

Utah’s Juneteenth Festival is hosted by the Project Success Coalition in collaboration with local businesses and organizations including Weber State University.

Sunday, June 21, 2020: Juneteenth Gospel Sunday and Father’s Day tribute

Juneteenth Gospel Sunday featuring Minister John Bratton, writer of the Gospel Song of Year, “Every Praise Is To Our God”, local choirs, and more beginning at 2:00 p.m.

Links for Virtual events can be found at weber.edu/juneteenth

Tracy Smith
Curtis Booker, joined the ABC4 family in January of 2019 as a Digital Content Producer. In May of 2019, he transitioned into learning the inner workings of becoming a news producer assisting with various shows. Curtis most recently rejoined the Digital team as a multi-media journalist in February of 2020.

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