5 Ways Rollins is Celebrating Juneteenth

June 14, 2022

By Office of Marketing

A photo collage showing scenes from various Black Student Union events such as Soul Food Sunday, a posed photo of the club on the steps of Kathleen W. Rollins Hall, and a breakfast with guest speakers
Photo by Scott Cook.

The holiday known as Black Independence Day is “a day on” for embracing cultural vibrancy and resilience in the Black community.

Freedom Day. Jubilation Day. Black Independence Day. The nicknames for Juneteenth share a spirit of joy and remembrance, marking the end of slavery 157 years ago.

Juneteenth commemorates the reading of federal orders in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, proclaiming all slaves in Texas were finally free. The orders came more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, ending all Confederate holdouts. Celebrations of Juneteenth date back to 1866, and activists have long called for the day to be recognized as a national holiday.

In 2020, Rollins President Grant Cornwell declared Juneteenth an official holiday as part of the College’s commitment to racial equity, a direct response to the Black Lives Matter movement. And last year, President Joe Biden officially declared it a federal holiday.

“Juneteenth is a holiday that reminds me of the courage and strength that resides within the Black community,” says Akheem Mitchell ’23, vice president of the Black Student Union and president of the Student Government Association. “While celebrations are a great way to commemorate this holiday, I believe that Juneteenth is a time where reflection is also important—reflection on our history and the strides that have been made since the emancipation of slaves in America. But also, reflection on our recent history and how we still have such a long way to go when focusing on equality and equity for all.”

To mark this significant day in history, we’ve put together a list of the best events honoring Black history and culture happening at Rollins and around Central Florida.

Let’s Get LITerary

Juneteenth marks one year since the debut of Rollins’ Let’s Get Literary podcast. Each month, a panel of hosts and a guest from the Rollins community read and discuss books that align with cultural heritage months and current events surrounding race and identity.

Led by a trio of Tars that includes associate director of internal communications Jen Atwell ’11 ’20MBA, assistant women’s basketball coach Kourtnie Berry ’12, and director of the Student Center for Inclusion & Belonging Samantha Vega, the podcast remains a vital part of the College’s commitment to tackling topics related to diversity and inclusion.

This month, the hosts discuss You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and the Black Experience, an anthology of Black artists that includes Kiese Laymon, Imani Perry, Laverne Cox, Jason Reynolds, and more. The book is edited by activist Tarana Burke and vulnerability researcher Brené Brown, and tackles topics related to activism and resilience. The episode drops on June 19 and will be available via Spotify or Apple podcasts.

Juneteenth Celebration in Historic Hannibal Square

Located a stone’s throw from campus, historic Hannibal Square is considered the heart of Winter Park’s Black community. The Hannibal Square Heritage Center, along with Crealde School of Art, Winter Park Public Library, and Winter Park Parks & Recreation is celebrating Juneteenth with a day of programming focused on promoting mental wellness in the Black community through architecture and the arts. Panels include a round table of delegates from Black Architects in the Making (BAM) discussing the impact of Black architects on marginalized communities and “Sewing for Justice,” a workshop presented by artists who share their experience of Blackness through intricate quilt designs.

The event is free to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 18, at the Winter Park Community Center located at 721 W. New England Ave.

A Family-Friendly Lunch and Learn

Kids and families can learn all about the historical significance of Juneteenth during an event hosted by local theater troupe Black Theatre Girl Magic at the Orlando Repertory Theatre on Saturday, June 18, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The celebration will feature story time with books about Juneteenth, refreshments, and a face-painting station. Jam out to tunes by DJ Jaé and revel in the joy of Orlando’s vibrant Black community. This event is free for Central Florida families, but advance registration is required to ensure that the organizers can provide ample amenities.

Facets of Freedom Celebration

Black Girl Theatre Magic is also sponsoring the second annual Facets of Freedom concert in partnership with the Orlando Repertory Theatre and the City of Orlando on Sunday, June 19, from 6 to 10 p.m. at Loch Haven Park. Join the organizers for live music and visual art as well as a bevy of Black-owned food trucks and vendors. The event listing encourages everyone to bring their best dance moves for a night of fun and celebration.

Tickets are $20, and all donations and proceeds will go to funding Black women and other persons of color in the arts. Find out more information and purchase tickets on Eventbrite.

City of Orlando’s Inaugural Juneteenth Celebration

Join Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, District 5 Commissioner Regina I. Hill, and District 6 Commissioner Bakari F. Burns for the city’s Inaugural Juneteenth Celebration at Lake Lorna Doone Park on Saturday, June 19, from noon to 5 p.m. The event will feature live music and entertainment, a kids zone, food trucks, and a vendor village where visitors can support Black-owned businesses. This event is free and open to the public.

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