It was a hot day on June 19th for our annual celebration of Juneteenth here at UT Dallas. As noted by our own Cornel Walton, “It was not a day for pants.” But with that being said, we invited the campus to come and make themselves comfortable as we commemorated the definitive end to slavery here in Texas.
Juneteenth is a holiday which marks the historical day, June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived on the island of Galveston, Texas, to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves. This was roughly two and a half years after the original abolition of slavery during Abraham Lincoln’s announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation which took effect January 1st, 1863.
The evening kicked off with a ceremonious overview of the reason for Juneteenth followed by the intoning of “Lift Every voice” and a reverent moment of silence before the solemn reading of the Emancipation Proclamation by Director and Assistant Vice President of Cultural Affairs Arthur Gregg.
The event brought family oriented food and fun with Texas-style barbecue, hot dogs, and hamburgers. The staff and faculty baked various treats for the delicious bake off competition which also had to compete with the ever popular cool and sweet treats of paletas or Mexican popsicles which brought a little multicultural taste to this fun celebration.
The wondrous sounds of local band, Why Not, filled the event with energy and a positive vibe. They covered crowd favorites including Bruno Mars’s “Treasure,” Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”.
Behind the plinth, there were multiple carnival games causing both entertainment, and for some, frustration. The ring toss was an especially popular game with the kids. Drawn to the fun little prizes, many kids kept on coming back to play again. One of them was so attracted to these prizes that they couldn’t carry everything she won with just her hands. Our own UTD students, however, were much more interested in beating the bottle throw and the skill ball.
The Multicultural Center also collaborated with various organizations to make this event possible including UTD’s Health Center, Wellness Center, , UTD Police Department, Student Success Center, Office of Diversity and Community Engagement, Student Union, Office of Administration, SUAAB, and the Student Organization Center. The Health Center raised a tent with various activities students could do to increase their health awareness including blood pressure and body mass index tests.
Overall the event was a success with several hundred students, staff, faculty, and even some future students from orientation attending, and we look forward to hosting it again next year!
Check out a video recap from the event below. Enjoy!