The UA Little Rock community will come together on Monday, June 20, to mark the university’s first celebration of Juneteenth.
The celebration will provide UA Little Rock students, employees, alumni, and friends with the opportunity to celebrate African American history and culture. The day will feature a Juneteenth historical reenactment and a Black-owned food truck festival as well as the release of a cookbook.
“UA Little Rock is proud to hold our first annual celebration of Juneteenth,” Chancellor Christina Drale said. “With our diverse campus community, the celebration of this important holiday highlights our commitment to creating a culture of inclusion and belonging while remembering this important moment in our nation’s history.”
June 19 is annually celebrated as Juneteenth, the oldest national commemoration of the ending of slavery in the country. The holiday originates from June 19, 1865, the day the last slaves in the country were freed in Galveston, Texas, at the end of the Civil War.
“I am so happy we are celebrating Juneteenth,” said Dr. Melvin Beavers, Chancellor’s DEI Fellow and director of first-year writing. “It gives us the opportunity to educate and reflect on the nation’s history. Additionally, it gives all a chance to come together to discuss our shared goals for racial justice at our institution and within our communities.”
The celebration begins with a “Taste of Juneteenth,” a Black-owned food truck festival from noon-2 p.m. The food truck festival will include Goldfingers Woodfired Pizza, Spud Love, Jefferson Mobile Grilling, and Cheesecake On Point.
Food trucks will be located on Campus Drive. Faculty, staff, and students may pick up tickets for an entree and a dessert at a table next to the Campus Bookstore in the Donaghey Student Center starting at 11:30 a.m.
As part of its inaugural Juneteenth celebration, UA Little Rock will host a reenactment of historic Juneteenth events at 1 p.m. June 20 in the Donaghey Student Center Ledbetter Hall.
S. Juain Young & Artists United is a multi-faceted, multi-talented, diverse performing arts group who has inspired and educated audiences across the state and country. They will perform a 20-minute Juneteenth reenactment in which enslaved Africans learn of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. Following the reenactment, the audience will gather into small groups for discussion and reflection. An education table will be available outside Ledbetter Hall with fliers containing fascinating facts and reading recommendations.
The Office of the Chancellor and the UA Little Rock Alumni Association are sponsoring the event. Speakers will include Chancellor Drale with opening remarks, Dr. Danyell Crutchfield Cummings, president of the Alumni Association, will introduce the reenactment, and Dr. Beaver with closing remarks.
The celebration will also include the launch of a UA Little Rock Juneteenth Celebration Cookbook that contains family recipes from UA Little Rock students, employees, and alumni. The cookbook will be available for download on UA Little Rock’s diversity, equity, and inclusion website at a later date.