Rollins Celebrates Juneteenth with Community and Reflection

June 12, 2024

By Jessica Firpi ’11

Fairolyn Livingston ’81, Black Lives Matter sign at Annie Russell Theatre, Hannibal Square street sign, and Black Student Union Soul Food Sunday celebration
Photo by Scott Cook.

Commemorating the end of slavery in Texas, Juneteenth serves as a powerful “day on” for embracing cultural vibrancy and resilience in the Black community.

On June 19, 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. In honor of joy and remembrance, Juneteenth commemorates the reading of these federal orders, proclaiming all slaves in Texas were finally free. 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.

“This day marks the end of slavery but also serves as a call to action,” says Cornwell. “Let us acknowledge the ongoing struggle for justice and equality that persists today. It is imperative that we listen to the experiences of Black Americans, amplify their voices, and continue our work toward dismantling racism. Juneteenth is not just a celebration but a reminder of our collective responsibility to create a more equitable society.”

As we celebrate this milestone moment in history, here’s a list of the best in-person and virtual events honoring Black history and culture at Rollins and around Central Florida.

Celebrating Diversity in June

  • Where: Virtual
  • When: Thursday, June 13 | 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Rollins’ Office of Human Resources and the Student Center for Inclusion & Belonging proudly present a four-part microlearning series on the pivotal role of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) in fostering thriving, inclusive environments for both workplaces and student-serving institutions.

Engage in a multi-speaker session that will highlight some of the prominent cultural observances in the U.S. during the month of June as we delve into Juneteenth, Caribbean American Heritage Month, and LGBTQ+ Pride Month. Guests include Black History Project, Inc., Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce of Florida, and PRISM.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to learn from distinguished speakers and deepen your understanding of these significant cultural milestones while embracing the spirit of DEIB and becoming part of a more inclusive future.

See Through Our Eyes: Storytellers in Sanford and Eatonville

  • Where: Hannibal Square Heritage Center, Winter Park
  • When: Saturday, June 15 | 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

In commemoration of Juneteenth, the Hannibal Square Heritage Center will host the ninth annual Juneteenth Celebration: Knowing, Remembering and Reclaiming Our Stories at Ward Chapel A.M.E. Church on Pennsylvania Avenue across from Shady Park in Hannibal Square. The event commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. The celebration and observance will feature distinguished guest speakers along with community conversations on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Juneteenth in Winter Park: Jazz & Jubilee, A Night Under the Stars

  • Where: Shady Park in Hannibal Square, Winter Park
  • When: Saturday, June 15 | 5-10 p.m.

Join in for an unforgettable evening of live jazz, delicious food, and vibrant spirits, all under the starry skies, where we’ll celebrate freedom, community, and the power of music in the historic African American community. The event is sponsored by the City of Winter Park and The Equity Council Corp., a Black-owned nonprofit serving Hannibal Square since 2018.

Held in Shady Park, this summer’s Juneteenth celebration promises an exhilarating night of music from top jazz musicians, including five-time Grammy-nominated bass player Tarus Mateen and vocalist Tamika Love Jones of Beyond Genre Music, among others. Don’t miss Tanita Fadyeyola with First World Drummers and Dancers during the opening ceremony, honoring Black ancestors through powerful performances. DJ Aj Simmons, aka Tony the “Sound Guy” of Simmons Entertainment, will set the vibe while distinguished hostess Lawanda Thompson, president of Equity Council Corp., guides guests through the evening.

Indulge in delectable dishes from local celebrity chef Nicholas Allman of Catered Delight and support Black-owned businesses by exploring cultural wear, custom jewelry, art, and more from our local vendors at The SOKO Marketplace.

This Juneteenth celebration is a rain-or-shine event, with an indoor location at the Winter Park Community Center if needed. Don’t forget to bring your stadium chairs for a comfortable evening under the stars.

Juneteenth: Connecting the Dots

  • Where: Winter Park Library, Winter Park
  • When: Sunday, June 16 | 3-4 p.m.

Juneteenth, Watch Night Service, and the Black Church. These three observances share a historical connection in U.S. Black history. Smith Grant Scholar Rebekah McCloud will discuss these relationships in observance of Juneteenth at this event reserved for guests age 18+.

McCloud is the 2004 recipient of the Rhea Marsh and Dorothy Smith Winter Park History Research Grant sponsored by the Winter Park Public Library and Rollins College. Her project, Across the Tracks: A Collective History of Black Churches of Winter Park, chronicles the history of the six oldest Black churches in Winter Park. Her followup to the project, sponsored by the City of Winter Park, is Sacred Places, Sacred History: Black Churches of Winter Park. It chronicles the beginnings of Winter Park and Hannibal Square as well as the development of the 12 churches while highlighting several of the citizens who contributed to the development of the West Side. A recognized Black Church historian, McCloud is working on a new book about Black churches in the South.

Central Florida Juneteenth Celebration and Fireworks Show

  • Where: Lake Lily Park, Maitland
  • When: Saturday, June 22, noon, through Sunday, June 23, 6 p.m.

Join G-Praise 106.3 & Power 95.9 of Orlando for two days filled with music, food, fun, and fireworks as we commemorate Juneteenth together. This event aims to celebrate freedom and unity while honoring African American culture and heritage. Enjoy live performances, global cuisine, local artists, and more, plus the nation’s official Juneteenth fireworks show and display. Kids eat free in our 3,500-square- foot kids zone.

The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth

  • Where: Virtual, Google Arts & Culture

Learn more about the history and legacy of Juneteenth in the U.S. with stories curated by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Explore Juneteenth on Google Arts & Culture and The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection

  • Where: Virtual, Google Arts & Culture

Learn more about what Juneteenth truly means with documents and tintypes that provide context from The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection. The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection and Foundation is one of the preeminent institutions dedicated to the research, interpretation, and presentation of the African American experience internationally.

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