Juneteenth, the federal holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans, will be celebrated at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in an event starting at noon, June 20 on the Nebraska Union Plaza.
Led by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the event is a first for the university. It will include details about the historic national holiday, opportunities for ongoing education, community activities and action, and information booths offered by several campus partners engaged in the efforts of inclusive excellence.
“Our goal for this inaugural event at UNL is to educate, inform and engage our community on the importance of the history of the holiday, a long-celebrated holiday in African American communities,” said Nkenge Friday, assistant vice chancellor for strategic initiatives. “All are welcome to join us, and we encourage visiting our website for additional resources and information.”
Significance of Juneteenth
Though the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued by Abraham Lincoln on Sept. 22, 1862, with an effective date of Jan. 1, 1863, it did not have an immediate effect for most enslaved people across the southern United States.
For some, especially in Texas, it was a two-and-a-half-year delay. Stories behind the slow rollout ranged from waiting to the end of the last cotton harvest to a messenger being killed on the way to spread the emancipation news.
Freedom — while already mentioned in history text books — finally arrived for enslaved Texans in 1865. Federal troops were sent in to Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation and declare that all enslaved people were free.
In the years since, June 19 has transformed into Juneteenth, a day to honor the end of slavery in the United States. It is considered the longest-running African-American holiday and was designated a federal holiday in 2021.