Rollins Celebrates Juneteenth Through Community and Reflection

June 14, 2023

By Office of Marketing

A Black student speaking, a Black Lives Matter sign at the Annie Russell Theatre, and a community pride mural in Hannibal Square.
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.

In honor of joy and remembrance, 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. The following year, President Joe Biden officially declared it a federal holiday.

“Juneteenth is bittersweet for me, as it’s a time to celebrate the fight against slavery and eventual triumph, but it’s also a reminder that even with the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Black people remained subservient and belittled in our society,” says Lashaughn Waiters ’24, incoming president of the Black Student Union. “I believe in celebrating every win along the path to freedom. Juneteenth shows that even with the passing of legislation, freedom comes as attitudes and societal views change.”

Here’s a list of the best events honoring Black history and culture happening around Central Florida as we celebrate this milestone moment in history and connect to our larger community.

Hannibal Square Celebration

  • Where: Winter Park Community Center
  • When: June 18 | 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Located just minutes from campus, historic Hannibal Square is considered the heart of Winter Park’s Black community. The Hannibal Square Heritage Center and Crealde School of Art will host the eighth annual “Juneteenth Celebration: Knowing, Remembering, and Shifting the Narrative” at the Winter Park Community Center, featuring guest speakers from the Real Rosewood Foundation and the Frost Museum in Miami. Enjoy free admission to the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, which is currently displaying the traveling “An Elegy to Rosewood” exhibition, and explore the permanent collection of photographs, oral histories, and public art inspired by African American history.

1887 Juneteenth Weekend

  • Where: Downtown Eatonville
  • When: June 16-18

The historic town of Eatonville, one of the first incorporated Black towns in America, invites you to 1887 Juneteenth Weekend, a three-day cultural celebration. Dust off your tuxedoes and dashikis for the Wakandan Father’s Day Gala, featuring African dancers, drummers, and entertainment, followed the next day by a Juneteenth Parade and Vibranium Central Florida Juneteenth Festival of the Arts. This free event will feature live music, entertainment, global cuisine, activities for kids, and the only Juneteenth fireworks show in Orlando. The weekend will conclude with the Juneteenth Freedom Celebration, an event honoring African American resilience.

Juneteenth 407 Weekend

  • Where: Parramore District
  • When: June 16-18

Celebrate African American culture and vibrancy with a curated series of events in downtown Orlando’s historic Parramore neighborhood. Highlights of the multi-day Juneteenth 407 Weekend—hosted by Black Friday Orlando—include a Black Friday Scavenger Hunt, a Better Together Mixer, a Juneteenth Block Party featuring food trucks and children’s activities, and The Anti Brunch, an all-inclusive Father’s Day brunch at The Monroe in Orlando’s Creative Village.

Lunch & Learn: A BGTM Juneteenth Event

  • Where: Orlando Repertory Theatre
  • When: June 18 | 2 p.m.

Hosted by the Florida Theatre Association, Black Girl Theatre Magic, and the Orlando Repertory Theatre, the Lunch & Learn event will feature a barbecue lunch supporting Black vendors, engaging readings of children’s books, face painting, and other fun and educational events centered on the history and importance of Juneteenth.

Da’ Path to Juneteenth

  • Where: Winter Park Library
  • When: June 20 | 6-7:30 p.m.

Anita Singleton Prather—a world-renowned Gullah heritage scholar—brings Gullah culture to life in an entertaining, educational, and interactive presentation, Da’ Path to Juneteenth. The Gullah Geechee people are the descendants of West and Central Africans who were enslaved and brought to the lower Atlantic states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia to work on the coastal rice, sea island cotton, and indigo plantations. A reception will follow the free presentation.

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