African Flag with Heart reads Juneteenth

Why We Observe Juneteenth | Events & Commemorations

What is Juneteenth and Why Do We Observe It

Our University community takes this time to remember the ancestral heritage of Black/African American people who were forced from their homeland and became enslaved people in a world unknown to them. June 19, 2022, is the 156th anniversary of Juneteenth. Originally commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Juneteenth is now the preeminent national celebration of freedom from slavery in the United States. Juneteenth, a blend of two words: “June” and “nineteenth,” also serves as a day to reflect on the fight for freedom and justice — then and now. The Office of Inclusive Community hopes you will honor Juneteenth with us through reflection and conversation. Honor Juneteenth by listening to dialogue centered around race and equity; contributing to the conversation in a constructive way; supporting Black-owned businesses; listening to Black artists; reading books written by Black writers; and donating to organizations that support racial justice.

The following is a press release from Juneteenth World Wide Celebration

New Orleans, June 2022 / – The observance of Juneteenth is about the journey and achievement of African Americans – from a horrific period of sanctioned enslavement to the pinnacle of human endeavors. It is a story of pride, resilience and determination that will always be of historical and spiritual importance – as it serves us well to understand that together, we can overcome all obstacles in our path.

As we know it, June 19th 1865, was the day word reached the enslaved in Galveston, Texas that their emancipation had been made formal, though it had been so since January, 1, 1863. And with those words, our country changed, this world changed. And, with bold and contentious decisions, we have continued to change – striving always to make it right, to make it better for all.

Again, we have the opportunity to look back at this century-and-a-half journey of progress. We pay homage to those who have gone before us, those that have paved the road to freedom – many with their lives. We stand on their shoulders. We, as a collective, from all walks of life, are a part of this victory. We celebrate freedom.

Through our celebrations we reflect this independence. Through grass roots organizing and community collaboration we enjoy the creativity and dedication that produce celebrations from the dinner table to the backyard barbeque, from the neighborhood block party to the city wide parade, and from the school cafeteria to the corporate conference room. There is no governing body that sanctions or approves Juneteenth celebrations or Juneteenth organizations. We encourage everyone to participate in a local event or start their own tradition. Strengthening the ties that bind us should always be our objective. Unity and peace are our goals.

As we pay tribute to the journey, we acknowledge the many roles and contributions of the African American spirit to our society. We embrace the past as well as the future that only unity, respect and appreciation can bring. To the countless supporters, organizers and attendees of Juneteenth celebrations hosted all across this nation and beyond, you are writing the history of our country and our world – there can be no greater honor than that. We thank you.

We Celebrate Juneteenth!

Watch the following video for a review of the history of Juneteenth and the struggle for the newly freed to actually realize freedom.  Juneteenth: 1865-2021

Celebrate, Commemorate Juneteenth

June 16

FREE Juneteenth Celebration at the Oklahoma History Center (800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr) features a “Music Through the Ages” themed celebration with educational presentations and musical performances representing Oklahoma’s unique African American roots. 6-8 p.m.

June 16-18

Tulsa Juneteenth Festival in the Historic Greenwood District (Greenwood Ave, Tulsa) features a festival that commemorates African American freedom, emphasizes education, celebrates the rich heritage of Greenwood, encourages healthy and active lifestyles, and advocates community impact. See website for schedule of events.

June 18

FREE Juneteenth on the East in Oklahoma City (N 23rd St Between N Kelham & N Hood)  features live music, interactive murals, dance performances, spoken word, food trucks, vendors, a car show and a 5K run. Saturday, 3-9 p.m.

Norman Juneteenth Festival at Reaves Park (2501 Jenkins Ave, Norman) features a live DJ, music, guest speakers, food trucks, performances, poetry, fireworks and more. 5:30-10 p.m.

FREE Juneteenth Music and Arts Festival at Washington Park (NE 4th St) features performances by Vokal Gold, B Les, Jon B, DJ Quik and more. 6:30 p.m.

June 11-30

BLACK TOWNS OF OKLAHOMA INTERACTIVE DISPLAY – Come and explore the 13 historically All-Black towns of Oklahoma still in existence today. There will be an exhibit created by the Oklahoma History Center of the Oklahoma Historical Society. In addition the library has created activities for all ages to help the information come alive! Come explore this exhibit throughout the library to help learn about this unique part of Oklahoma history. Warr Acres Library – 5901 NW 63rd Street, Warr Acres, OK 73132. Available all day.

Inclusion & Diversity Strategist, University Office of Inclusive Community