Courtesy of Health Resources In Action
On June 19, people will gather around the country to celebrate freedom. Whether events are held locally or in major cities, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved and celebrate Juneteenth.
Juneteenth, a federally recognized holiday as of 2021, honors the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States.
Also known as African American Emancipation Day, the day emphasizes education and achievement within the Black community. The celebration, which sometimes lasts throughout the entire month of June, includes guest speakers, marches, family gatherings and other commemorative events.
The University’s department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will offer several events to celebrate. At the end of May, UA news shared a compilation of free tours and events, both in-person and online for individuals to get involved with.
Hilary Green, an associate professor in the University’s Gender and Race Studies department said that acknowledging and engaging with Juneteenth is important, especially at a campus like Alabama, which has such longstanding ties to racism and slavery.
Green said many important events occur through the month of June that are pivotal moments for Black students and the UA community. After this year, and events surrounding the naming of Autherine Lucy Hall, Green said the University has demonstrated intention with their actions.
“This last year showed that we need more healing … Seeing the intentionality, the funding—actually putting money behind something, and a way to use this event to bridge what happened last this whole academic year …That’s the way to do it. And I’m so happy to see that and… I hope that it sustains beyond this year,” Green said.
The 59th anniversary of the Stand at the Schoolhouse Door recently passed on June 11, where former Governor George Wallace stood in front of Foster Auditorium in 1963 to stop the enrollment of African-American students Vivan Malone and James Hood. Wallace was being confronted by the Deputy U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach amidst his protests. June 8th and 9th were the anniversaries of removals of monuments which honored confederate soldiers on campus.
Green said Juneteenth is an opportunity for celebration and not trauma.
“Having this day [Juneteenth] is another opportunity that’s a celebration not over trauma, because our other June date is the Stand at the Schoolhouse Door, and it’s a day of trauma, a day of UA being forced to do something right, rather than actually, like, ‘let’s celebrate black history,’” Green said.
Alabama has its own Juneteenth weekend celebrations happening throughout the state, such as basketball tournaments for local teams and concerts.
Here are some activities and events the campus community can engage with this Juneteenth:
Freedom Day Exhibition
Now – June 30
An exhibition, held in the Intercultural Diversity Center, that explores the history, key figures, and impact of Freedom Day on the United States and the African American community.
Juneteenth: Freedom Day Presentation
June 16, Virtual
A presentation, offered in collaboration with Safe Zone Resource Center, the Alabama Panhellenic Association and the National Pan-Hellenic Council will discuss the history of Juneteenth from 1856 to the present day; celebration, practices, reading lists and more will be shown.
Tuscaloosa NAACP Juneteenth Parade & Cookout
June 18, Parade & Cookout
Tuscaloosa NAACP will host Juneteenth events with a parade starting at Westlawn Middle School. Participants will walk with community leaders, discussing the importance of Juneteenth, before attending a cookout in Palmore Park where Sen. Bobby Singleton and Rep. A.J. McCampbell will be in attendance as “grill masters.”
Tuscaloosa Black Heritage Festival
The family friendly event will feature live music, live performances, food and various other vendors, while also educating people on the Black community leaders, artists and business owners of Tuscaloosa.
Juneteenth Weekend Festival
June 17 – 19
In Tuscaloosa, The Black Male Initiative and Mister Stillman College are hosting their inaugural “Juneteenth Weekend Festival.” On Friday, June 17, round one of the Dust Bowl, where local basketball players will compete tournament style for $1000 of cash and prizes, will occur at 3 p.m. Saturday will hold a Father’s Day event, Black Arts Festival, and a championship game for the Dust Bowl. Live music performances will also take place with food and door prizes awaiting guests. The festivities will wrap up on Sunday in Tuscaloosa with a church service and a traditional southern style dinner.
Arik Evans, a senior at Stillman College, told The Black Male Initiative that he is hoping that this event will bring his community closer together.
“It will be a weekend of fun, and hopefully people will learn about our culture and heritage,” Evans said on the Stillman College website.
The Neptune Frost at Sidewalk
Taking place in Birmingham, the Neptune Frost at Sidewalk is an “Afrofuturist musical experience described as a one-of-a-kind Afrofuturist genderqueer anti-colonist cyberpunk musical.”
The film paints neo-colonialism through DIY aesthetics, beautiful visuals and storytelling. This event costs between $5-$12.50.
Corey Craft, the feature film program director at Sidewalk Film Festival and Cinema, said that Neptune Frost is “a truly original reminder of the power and possibility of the movies.”
“You can go to the cinemas to see a sixth Jurassic Park or a fifth movie starring Buzz Lightyear—or you can join us at Sidewalk to see a movie unlike anything else you’ve ever seen,” Craft said.
The Juneteenth Freedom Celebration
The Lifting as We Climb Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on uplifting underserved youth, is hosting their first Juneteenth event. The event will include food trucks, live music, networking hubs and vendor shopping. At the end of the night, fireworks will be set off to celebrate the two-year-old federal holiday.