Inaugural Juneteenth Celebration Draws Hundreds to UNC’s Campus
June 23, 2022
On Friday, June 17, the streets in front of UNC’s Marcus Garvey Cultural Center were alive with festivities for the first-ever community-wide Juneteenth celebration.
Although celebrated for over a century in other parts of the country and first recognized as a state holiday in Texas in 1979, Juneteenth was officially declared a federal holiday on June 17, 2021. The day honors the end of slavery in the United States, marking the date that the last of the enslaved Africans in America were notified of their freedom, a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
This year’s event, Juneteenth: A Family Reunion, was sponsored by UNC, the City of Greeley and powered by PDC Energy. Its purpose was to honor the day of Juneteenth as a day of rest and freedom for participants and attendees.
“This inaugural event truly captured the essence of a family reunion: good food, good music and great energy,” said Janine Weaver-Douglas, director of UNC’s Marcus Garvey Cultural Center. "The anticipated attendance was more than double what we expected, which truly served as an affirmation that our goals of community and celebration were sound and shared.”
According to Weaver-Douglas, the event hosted over 25 community and campus vendors and partners, helping to contribute material goods and money directly to Black makers, doers and creators through the event.
“We are so grateful that PDC Energy, the City of Greeley and UNC trusted the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center to host this historic event and we look forward to maintaining this momentum within our events this coming fall,” Weaver-Douglas continued. “We invite the community to engage further with us, via our social media, our website and our events, as we work to create haven in the UNC and Greeley communities.”
“I was proud to see over 300 people attending the Juneteenth inaugural event,” said Tobias Guzmán, UNC’s vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “It was refreshing to witness Black culture through food and music while supporting some of the community's black-owned businesses. We had UNC faculty and staff, high school students, several city staff and leaders and our men's basketball team in attendance. I am proud of Dr. Weaver-Douglas and her leadership in making this happen and through the financial support of PDC Energy."
For those interested in learning more about Juneteenth — its origins, how it has evolved and how it fits into the narrative of the Black experience in the U.S. today — read or listen to Weaver-Douglas' recent interview with KUNC, How Juneteenth Honors its Enslaved Forbearers and Grapples With Modern Inequality.
Check out photos from Juneteenth: A Family Reunion, the community celebration that included a barbecue, a Black-owned/Black-minded vendor fair, games and music.