On June 22, Salt Lake Community College will host a free, public event to celebrate Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the end of chattel slavery in the United States. The event marks the school’s first Juneteenth celebration.
The event will feature a dance performance from Copper Hills High School’s Black Student Union and three other presenters, including Marian Dora Howe-Taylor, who received the 2021-2022 Outstanding Achievement Award in Racial Equity & Social Justice.
“Salt Lake Community College acknowledges Juneteenth as a Federal Holiday, and recognizes its meaning and purpose as a celebration of a freed people, once enslaved in the United States of America,” the school wrote in an online posting.
SLCC’s Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, Black Student Union and School of Arts, Communication and Media act as organizers of the celebration. The event will take place from 6-8 p.m. in the Oak Room at the Taylorsville Redwood Campus.
Why Juneteenth is celebrated
Juneteenth is celebrated annually on June 19, the day when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to inform Texians that all enslaved people were now free. Since then, the day has evolved to become a celebration of African American history and culture throughout the country.
During an event Tuesday in which community leaders raised the Juneteenth flag at the Salt Lake City and County Building, state Rep. Sandra Hollins compared Juneteenth to Independence Day.
“When we celebrate Independence Day, it wasn’t an Independence Day for a lot of people,” Hollins said during the flag-raising event. “For the enslaved people, in particular.”
Last year, President Joe Biden signed a bill recognizing Juneteenth as a national holiday to be observed on June 19. Utah lawmakers passed a similar bill this past March, making Juneteenth a state holiday as well.
The Utah bill designates that Juneteenth will be celebrated on June 19 if it falls on Monday, but if June 19 falls on any other day of the week, it will instead be observed on the following Monday, ensuring residents will always get a three-day weekend for the holiday.
Because June 19 falls on a Sunday this year, the state will celebrate Juneteenth on Monday, June 20.
Various groups and organizations across the state will hold events in celebration of Juneteenth, occurring throughout the week of June 19. Information about those events can be found on the webpage of the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs.