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'From Freedom to Liberation': The first university-wide celebration of Juneteenth

June 17, 2021
The MSU stadium behind spring flowers on April 29, 2021.
The MSU stadium behind spring flowers on April 29, 2021. —
Photo by Lauren Snyder | The State News

Michigan State University will hold its first-ever university-wide celebration of Juneteenth in person on June 19 at Munn Field from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, acknowledges the ending of slavery in the U.S. On June 19, 1865, nearly three years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, over 250,000 African American slaves in Texas were freed from slavery.

“I am pleased to announce MSU’s inaugural recognition and celebration of Juneteenth,” Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Jabbar R. Bennett said in a press release on June 15. 

It is based on the theme “From Freedom to Liberation” to acknowledge that the struggle for racial equality is not over. 

Since the event is less than a month after the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death due to police brutality, leaders like Vice President of Public Safety and MSU Chief of Police Marlon Lynch will acknowledge the event.

“This is a momentous occasion to bring the campus and local communities together to celebrate African American culture, while recognizing the ongoing challenges to achieve true liberation,” Bennett said.

Black Student Alliance Public Relations Chair Ania Potts said this would be a good excuse to bring people together since MSU has never had a celebration for Juneteenth.

“It’s wonderful that the timing of this year’s event coincided with COVID-19 restrictions being lifted across the state, so that everyone can gather safely outdoors,” Bennett said.

The commemoration will also be the first in-person gathering since the COVID-19 pandemic reached Michigan over a year ago. 

People who want to attend the event will be asked to complete MSU’s Health Screening Form. The celebration will have live performances, food, discussion, giveaways, music and art.

“We really just wanted something wholesome for people to come out and enjoy and have a safe space,” Potts said.

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