Juneteenth 2023

On June 19, 2023, UA Little Rock will commemorate Juneteenth, which marks the day in 1865 when the last Confederate communities of enslaved Black Americans were informed of their freedom in Galveston, Texas, nearly two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had granted it to them.

To honor Juneteenth, UA Little Rock will host its second annual celebration of this event. Guest speakers Dr. Carl Moneyhon and Arkansas State Senator Joyce Elliott will visit campus to speak about the origins and impact of the holiday, and attendees will have the chance to win one of four books on the topic.

As a celebration of freedom, Juneteenth is often observed as a jubilant festival, where barbecue and other soul food traditions are a central staple. To honor this tradition, UA Little Rock faculty and staff have compiled a cookbook featuring traditional recipes passed down to them through generations of celebration. Digital copies of the book are available on our website, and paperback copies can be purchased to help support future celebrations at UA Little Rock.

Since the first organized commemoration of Juneteenth in 1866, observance of the historic day spread from Texas throughout the United States, particularly after the victories achieved through the Civil Rights movement when a revival of large-scale public celebrations nationwide ultimately led to its establishment as an official Texas state holiday in 1980.

In the decades that followed, all states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation recognizing it as a holiday or observance, and after years of advocacy, Juneteenth was established as a federal holiday in 2021 with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Observance of the holiday is traditionally centered around community, with friends and family, civic and business leaders, communities of faith, educators, and artists gathering to celebrate their freedom, encourage civic engagement, and acknowledge their unique cultural heritage.  Music and dance punctuate common activities that have historically included everything from rodeos and beauty pageants to educational lectures, prayer services, and voter registration drives.

But the parades, picnics, family reunions, and street festivals that are emblematic of the holiday are all traditions that are deeply rooted in the struggle for liberty and equality that only began with the ratification of the 13th Amendment. In that sense, Juneteenth is both a celebration of the culture and heritage of Black Americans and an important moment to reflect on the history of the democratic principles of freedom promised through the United States Constitution.

Special thanks to Dr. Karen Kuralt for the book’s design and Dr. Jennifer Hune for the forward. 

Special Thanks to Geoffrey Nash for composing the Juneteenth statement.

Please enjoy the video below of members of the UA Little Rock community discussing what Juneteenth means to them.

Celebrating Juneteenth

Members of the UA Little Rock community share what Juneteenth means to them. ualr.edu/diversity

Posted in: Events, Race and Ethnicity, Solidarity Statement

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