Black Student Union invites the community to celebrate Juneteenth

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Over a hundred people gathered at Porter Park last year to celebrate this year’s Juneteenth celebration. Photo credit: Grace Wride

On June 19, the Black Student Union will host an event at Porter Park called “Freedom Celebration” in honor of Juneteenth, with free admission to all.

The schedule of events goes as:

— 4 p.m. Family activities and food.

— 6:30 p.m. Program.

— 8 p.m. DJ Music.

This is the second Juneteenth event for Rexburg. The Black Student Union has been working on this event all semester long.

Michaela Mack-White, a sophomore studying music and a member of the Black Student Union, wants people to know that the event is a celebration of unity and inclusivity, but they also hope to gather to acknowledge the history behind Juneteenth.

On Jan. 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation took effect, freeing the enslaved African Americans throughout the Confederacy. Although the proclamation was issued, there were several places within the South still under Confederate control. Slaves in Texas were not free until June 19, 1865, when the Union Army arrived in Galveston and announced the abolition of slavery. This day is known as “Juneteenth.”

“I think it would be a disservice to not commemorate and to honor that legacy,” Mack-White said. “That is our history, Black history … Black African American history. That is our history and we all have to acknowledge it. We have to come together, and I just hope that people take away that feeling of solidarity and realization that we are in this together, and we are all human beings doing the best that we can to be good people, to be real people, to be functioning members of society. I think this is one of the best ways we can show that.”

According to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture website, “Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day. Although it has long celebrated in the African American community, this monumental event remains largely unknown to most Americans.”

Lauren Andrews, a sophomore studying accounting, attended the event last year with her roommates.

“I honestly didn’t know what Juneteenth was,” Andrews said. “After going to the event, my eyes were so open. I had no idea about the history of it all. The fact that we had placed Fourth of July, a day about freedom, and not everyone was free at the time is so wrong.”

Andrews plans on attending the upcoming event and hopes to understand more about black history.

“I want people to know that celebrating culture or taking part of your culture is not racially divisive,” Mack-White said. “Everybody should be able to take pride of who they are, where they come from and what their culture is. And I stand behind that 100 percent.”

Mack-White said that she wants people to come happy to celebrate, ready to learn and hungry for food.

For more information about the Black Student Union in Rexburg, check out its Instagram page.