Home to the Original Juneteenth, Texas Universities Focus on Celebrations

Student unions are contributing to the Juneteenth celebrations that in some places began early this week in both virtual and live venues. Texas universities and their student organizations are among some of the busiest with events. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when federal orders were read in Texas announcing that all formerly enslaved people were free. Texas was the most remote slave state at the time and enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation, though enacted more than two years earlier, had been piecemeal.

The University of Texas–San Antonio student union on Friday, the formal Juneteenth celebration day, will host a virtual event that includes live poetry reading and a panel discussion. Texas poet laureate nominee and National Poetry Slam finalist Christopher Michael Brown (pictured) will headline the poetry slam event.

It’s worth noting that last year’s Juneteenth program at the University of Texas–San Antonio received ACUI’s 2020 Collaborative Program of the Year award. The celebration was created through a collaboration between the student union, the Student Center for Community Engagement and Inclusion, the Student Government Association, and the African American Studies department. Over 250 students attended the event that provided an opportunity for them to expand their world view and opinions in a diverse, inclusive, and safe environment. The day included an a cappella performance of “Oh, Freedom,” guest speakers, poetry readings, community discussion, and food.

You can also head north to the University of Texas—Dallas where its multicultural center is hosting a virtual meal share, a cookbook release meant to replace an annual in-person Juneteenth Cook-Off, and dance party on June 16. At Texas Woman’s University, the Office of Student Life is hosting a Netflix Party on Wednesday evening, June 14, to screen “Becoming,” a documentary based on the book of the same name written by former first lady Michelle Obama. 

Elsewhere around the United States, Wayne State University will host a virtual African-American graduation ceremony as part of a Juneteenth commemoration, and the American University Graduate Black Student Union has organized a happy hour and community building event. 

Some community events of interest include another one in Texas, the Houston Black Lives Matter Juneteenth Bike Ride, the evening of June 19, starting out of Guadalupe Park. Masks are encouraged and riders should bring plenty of water. Virtually, the Amistad Center for Arts and Culture in Hartford, Connecticut, is hosting a weeklong virtual event that includes dance, music, storytelling, and art.   

If shopping is participating, then a Juneteenth Shop Black Day might be the ticket. Organized by a Memphis, Tennessee, black business owner, the one-day virtual event features free online shopping at 100 black-owned businesses located in 20 different cities. Early birds can buy a $10 ticket that gives them two hours of shopping prior to the main event that begins at 1 p.m. Eastern on June 19.


  • Steve Chaplin

    Steve Chaplin is managing editor of ACUI’s The Bulletin and manager of the ACUI College Union and Student Activities (CUSA) Evaluation Program. A former newspaper writer, editor, and manager, he has volunteered as a student mentor as a member of the National Association of Science Writers, and received awards for his writing and reporting from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Kentucky Education Association, and the Kentucky Press Association.