UMass Global to honor Juneteenth

June 13, 2022

A logo with the message "June 19: Juneteenth: African-American Freedom Day" in gold letters over a striped black, red, and green background.

In observance of UMass Global's newly established tradition of recognizing Juneteenth, university leadership has once again granted early time off for all employees. This year, employees will be able to conclude their workday at noon on Friday, June 17.

Juneteenth commemorates a pivotal day in the history of African Americans’ emancipation from enslavement. The celebration of Juneteenth also focuses our attention on the subsequent struggles to affirm and defend civil rights throughout the nation.

Juneteenth specifically recalls the events of June 19, 1865 in Texas. Representatives of the victorious Union Army, after the fall of the Confederacy, then enforced the mandate for freedom expressed in the words of the Emancipation Proclamation. The National Museum of African American History & Culture keeps the memory of these events alive.

Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863, it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. As a result, in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, enslaved people would not be free until much later. Freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree. This day came to be known as "Juneteenth," by the newly freed people in Texas.

The post-emancipation period known as Reconstruction (1865-1877) marked an era of great hope, uncertainty, and struggle for the nation as a whole. Formerly enslaved people immediately sought to reunify families, establish schools, run for political office, push radical legislation and even sue slaveholders for compensation. Given the 200+ years of enslavement, such changes were nothing short of amazing. Not even a generation out of slavery, African Americans were inspired and empowered to transform their lives and their country.

President Biden in 2021 signed legislation enshrining Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Although the federal observance is Monday, June 20, UMass Global leadership has chosen to observe the holiday this year on Friday, June 17 to avoid disruptions to learning activities and student services. This will be the third consecutive year in which the university celebrates Juneteenth by offering early dismissal to faculty and staff.

Several community events, some of which are listed below, provide opportunities for readers interested in participating in public celebrations over the coming weekend. We hope that as Juneteenth becomes a more prominent aspect of American culture, more people of all races and backgrounds will come together to celebrate emancipation and acknowledge the injustices stemming from enslavement and its odious legacy. Being aware of history is a necessary step toward fostering a spirit of reconciliation and healing that motivates us to strive for a better nation for all people.

Juneteenth events are planned for several communities where UMass Global has campuses or important relationships with students and colleagues. Several events are listed here, and readers may learn of additional events via community message boards, local news sources, or social media.

  • Boston: Juneteenth Boston plans include the March to Freedom Parade set to begin at 3 p.m. Friday, June 17 at Melnea Cass Arena, 120 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The parade will conclude about 5:30 p.m. at Nubian Square, where a festival is scheduled to be held until 9 p.m.
  • Irvine: The city’s first-ever Juneteenth Freedom Celebration is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday, June 19 at Great Park Palm Court, 8000 Great Park Blvd.
  • Lompoc: Celebrate Freedom! Juneteenth! is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 18 at Ryon Memorial Park, 800 W. Ocean Ave.
  • Los Angeles: The Juneteenth Art x Culture Festival is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 19 at Westchester Recreational Park, 7000 W. Manchester Ave.
  • Modesto: A Juneteenth Celebration is planned for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, June 17 at King-Kennedy Memorial Center, 601 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
  • Orlando: The city’s Inaugural Juneteenth Celebration is scheduled for noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday June 18 at Lake Lorna Doone Park, 1519 W. Church Street.
  • Portland: The schedule for Juneteenth Oregon Celebration includes a parade set to begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 18 with participants starting at the intersection of N.E. Martin Luther King Boulevard and N.E. Ainsworth Street. The parade route will follow Martin Luther King Boulevard southward to N.E. Russell Street. A festival is scheduled to follow from noon to 7 p.m. at Lillis-Albina Park, near the crossing of N. Flint Avenue and N. Russell Street.
  • Riverside: The B.L.A.C.K. Collective and the Beta Zeta Omega chapter of Iota Pi Theta, an African American fraternity, have scheduled their Juneteenth Celebration for 1 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 18 at White Park, 3936 Chestnut Street.
  • Sacramento: The Juneteenth Festival here is set to include the “Gospel Under the Stars” concert planned for 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 17 and additional events set for 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 18 at William Land Regional Park, 3800 Land Park Drive.
  • San Diego: The Cooper Family Foundation’s Juneteenth Healing the Community Festival is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 18 at Memorial Park, 2975 Ocean View Blvd.
  • San Jose: Juneteenth in the Streets is scheduled for noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 18 in downtown San Jose's SoFA District. Visitors may park at Santa Clara County Fairgrounds – Gate D, 2542 Monterey Road.
  • Tacoma: The city’s Juneteenth: Freedom Celebration is scheduled for noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 15 at Tollefson Plaza, 1548 Commerce Street.
  • Washington, D.C.: The National Juneteenth Foundation plans to stream the Juneteenth Honors awards presentation on Sunday June 19, following the live event set for Thursday evening at Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Readers interested in learning more about the history of Juneteenth and emancipation are encouraged to access the following resources:

  • Why all Americans should honor Juneteenth,” a Vox video narrated by Karlos K. Hill, chair of Clara Luper Department of African and African-American Studies at the University of Oklahoma. The video includes archival recordings from formerly enslaved people who lived through emancipation.
  • The National Museum of African-American History & Culture’s online Juneteenth exhibit includes a video presentation with oral history specialist Kelly Navies' discussion the evolution of Juneteenth celebrations from the beginning of Reconstruction to the modern day.

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