Official Student Media of Valencia College

Valencia Voice

Official Student Media of Valencia College

Valencia Voice

Official Student Media of Valencia College

Valencia Voice

Juneteenth Events Offer Education, Cultural Appreciation, and Community Building

Federal Holiday Marks Important Anniversary of Freedom From Slavery
Beatriz Trujillo
The federal holiday of Juneteenth, held each year on June 19, recognizes the emancipation of slaves as well as highlights the importance of Black history in the US.

It is also known as Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day, Black Independence Day, and Freedom Day. Juneteenth National Independence Day celebrates the end of slavery. In 1865, June 19 marked the end of slavery for the last Confederate community of African American slave citizens in Galveston, Texas. 

The history behind Juneteenth is significant and should be taught to incoming Pumas. This celebratory day is essential to the history of Americans in many ways.

Union General Gordon Granger and his troops journeyed to Galveston, Texas, and on June 19, 1865, heralded the end of slavery. The first Juneteenth became recognized globally and symbolized political efficacy, popular sovereignty, democracy, and equality.

Representing political efficacy with the implementation of legislation – facilitating a federal holiday for this important day – the first movement to make Juneteenth a holiday started in 1994 and was intended for Texas. In 2021, President Joe Biden signed an act into law recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday.

The 13th Amendment, representing popular sovereignty, meaning the idea that political authority lies in the hands of people, marked the end of slavery, making the first Juneteenth in 1865 remarkable. The Amendment was passed on January 31 of the same year, its ratification took place on December 6. The Amendment was immediately effective nationwide. According to National Geographic, it freed more than 100,000 enslaved people. 

Brianna Grant, a library aide at Valencia College, shares insights into her awareness and celebration of Juneteenth. While not always participating personally, she values understanding its historical significance. Outside of Valencia College, Brianna engages in art programs that have recognized Juneteenth with creative projects like headphones and creative designs featuring themes related to the holiday.

“I am an artist outside Valencia. We celebrate holidays by creating designs, such as headphones with Beats by Dre, celebrating and bringing awareness for Juneteenth.”

Programs like the Black Creators Internship program create materials for events such as the Black Future Brunch program in 2023, hosted to uplift and shine a light on Black artists on Juneteenth of 2023, which can be found on Linkedin and Instagram.

Reflecting on past celebrations, she describes enjoying cookouts, games, and music—an atmosphere that embraces the festive spirit of Juneteenth. 

Grant believes it’s essential for Valencia College students to learn about Juneteenth, emphasizing that knowledge empowers individuals and enhances cultural awareness. Despite its importance, she notes a relative lack of visibility for Juneteenth through posters or widespread discussion, suggesting opportunities for increased recognition within the college community.

“I did not necessarily see too many posters or people talking about it. It is important for Valencia College students to know about Juneteenth: knowledge is power, and the more you know, the better.”

Pumas opinions

Some students shared directly about the significance of Juneteenth to them. Rochelle Morgan, AA, Nursing, and Student Leader, highlights an upcoming West Campus event where students will celebrate with soul food — a wonderful way to commemorate the day and foster community spirit. Lake Nona Campus will also host a Juneteenth event in the Main Hallway.

She says, “We are having a tabling event on West Campus on June 19 which will be held in the Bldg 3 Breezeway. We will issue soul food to those who want to celebrate with us by the Student Development office.”

Business Administration student Faith Farley emphasizes how Juneteenth’s celebration is crucial for Valencia students, highlighting its historical importance and relevance to a college community. Farley says, “The celebration of Juneteenth is important, especially for Valencia college students; it deals with the emancipation of slavery and affects all students.” 

She emphasizes this by saying, “Valencia is culturally diverse.”

Dana Lee Raid, AA , Communications, underlines how Juneteenth fosters a sense of community and unity among people, bringing them together to learn and celebrate. Raid says, “It is a big deal for Valencia College, especially connecting students. The more we learn about American history, the more we can let others know and correct their actions.”

She mentioned that this holiday has not received much visibility, saying, “My speech class briefly mentioned Juneteenth, but that was my only class that mentioned it.” She wishes more classes would be involved by saying: “Juneteenth impacts our understanding of American history; it provides visibility for things like that in the classroom setting.”

Their insights reflect Juneteenth’s impact beyond history books, making it meaningful for education, cultural appreciation, and community building at Valencia College.

General Studies student Donovan Holloway reflects on Juneteenth’s historical significance, noting that many people may not fully appreciate its importance. He believes it’s crucial to celebrate this holiday now more than ever, as it inspires awareness and appreciation for American history, particularly its impact on the Black community. As he said: “It is very important for our history, and a lot of people are not aware and are not as appreciative of this holiday”.

Holloway also highlights the need for a more comprehensive discussion of Juneteenth in educational settings, suggesting that its inclusion in the curriculum could deepen understanding and respect for this pivotal moment in American history. As he said: “Not enough classes talk about it, or they don’t go into detail”

Moreover, he adds, “This is the perfect time to celebrate. It inspires us, as students, to be more aware of American history. It is very impactful to our community and Black history.”

16th President Abraham Lincoln was significant in implementing the Thirteenth Amendment. According to The Gilder Institute of American History, Lincoln persuaded eight House Democrats to switch their votes and encouraged several other Representatives who had missed the previous vote to support the amendment which was finally passed on January 31, 1865.

Lastly, Juneteenth represents equality by shining a light toward liberty, as described by the National Museum of African American History and Culture:

 “The roots of the symbolic efficacy of the color red can be traced to West Africa, where it has been associated with strength, spirituality, life, and death. “

Juneteenth is included in the Federal Reserve primary holiday schedule. Banks and some government services will be closed on Juneteenth. Mail will not be delivered, and the United States Postal Service  will be closed. Valencia College summer classes will still take place.

On June 15, Winter Park, Orlando, Longwood, and Kissimmee will host festivities. On June 19, Clermont will also host a festival. Maitland will host the “Central Florida Juneteenth Celebration and Fireworks Show ” on June 22 and 23 at Lake Lily Park. 


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About the Contributor
Beatriz Trujillo
Beatriz Trujillo, Copy Editor
Beatriz Trujillo is pursuing an associate’s degree in Political Science at Valencia College and is a member of the Seneff Honors College, maintaining a 3.0 GPA as a full-time student. Trujillo's passions include current events, reading about the economy and writing about social and political settings.

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