This year, Millersville University’s Juneteenth Celebration will include multiple in-person and virtual events.  

In 2019, Governor Tom Wolf passed legislation that declared June 19 a statewide holiday, in observance of Juneteenth National Freedom Day.  

J Whitlow, inaugural director of the Dr. Rita Smith Wade-El Intercultural Center, says, “Since the opening of the Intercultural Center, we have provided some level of education around Juneteenth. With the state’s recent acknowledgement of the holiday, it provides more widespread visibility of the holiday and the continual fight for justice and equity.” 

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the U.S.  On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas with the news that the war had ended and the enslaved were now free. The first Juneteenth celebration took place in 1866, where former enslaved people sang, danced and read the Emancipation Proclamation. It spread across the South in the 1920s and 1930s, but grew in popularity in the 1970s with a focus on African American freedom and arts.

“Juneteenth has usually been a quiet, private and even solemn remembrance of the day in 1865 when the end of the Civil War and slavery was announced to enslaved Black people in Texas,” says Whitlow. “The acknowledgement of this holiday and its significance by non-Black people is long overdue.”  

Millersville University will observe Juneteenth by giving employees the day off and cancelling classes for its students on June 18. “The Department of Campus Life along with the Intercultural Center will partner with local community organizations such as the YWCA and the Imani Edutainers African Dance Company this year to engage the surrounding community as well,” says Whitlow.  

Millersville University’s 2021 Juneteenth Celebration will begin with a Virtual Affinity Gathering for Black faculty, staff and students on Monday, June 14 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Student Memorial Center (SMC). On Tuesday, June 15 a virtual screening of Judas and the Black Messiah will be made available to students. Click here for the virtual screening link.  

A Juneteenth Campus Celebration BBQ will be held on Wednesday, June 16, from noon to –3 p.m. on Brooks Field. Throughout the week, Reign & Taij’s Homemade Lemonade will be available on the SMC Promenade for students.  

Millersville’s Juneteenth Celebration finale will take place at the Ware Center on June 19 with a special performance from Imani Edutainers African Dance Company. This free event is co-sponsored by the Dr. Rita Smith Wade-El Intercultural Center.  

Tickets to Juneteenth Celebration events will be made available through Eventbrite. Juneteenth Celebration Boxes are being made available to students, containing a T-shirt and educational information.  If you would like to reserve a Juneteenth Celebration Box visit https://getinvolved.millersville.edu/submitter/form/start/480307\.

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