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U to celebrate Juneteenth: An important event in America’s multilayered evolution

This summer, the University of Utah will commemorate a key event in U.S. history with the celebration of the official end of slavery nationwide. On June 20, 2023, the U will pay tribute to Juneteenth National Independence Day in honor of the day when the last enslaved individuals in the country were notified of their emancipation.

The theme for this year’s event is “Wave of Freedom,” and campus festivities in honor of Juneteenth are scheduled to include a flag-raising ceremony at 9 a.m. at the Park building on Presidents Circle. Confirmed speakers for the morning event include Utah human rights activist and historian Betty Sawyer; Robert Burch, executive director at Sema Hadithi African American Heritage and Culture Foundation; and spoken word artist Youri Joseph.

“We are committed to cultivating an educational environment that embraces diversity and nurtures a sense of belonging,” said Lori McDonald, vice president for Student Affairs. “By commemorating Juneteenth, we send a powerful message to our students, affirming that their stories, histories, and contributions matter.”

After the morning’s festivities and flag ceremony at Presidents Circle, activities will continue with lunch and a series of planned discussions and panels beginning at 11 a.m. and continuing until 2:30 p.m. in the Spencer Fox Eccles Business Building (SFEBB). Summit participants include the university’s Black Student Union (BSU), the Black Cultural Center (BCC), Black Physicians of Utah (BPOU), and the Historically Black Colleges & Universities IMPACT program—and the keynote will be delivered by Utah Black Chamber of Commerce executive director Dr. Sidni Shorter.

Registration for the afternoon Juneteenth Summit is required. For more information about all the university’s Juneteenth activities on campus, visit the Juneteenth event website.

“Our campus community is excited to remember and celebrate this day and to appreciate our commitment to the continued the work,” said Jeff Herring, University of Utah Chief Human Resources Officer. “Every step towards greater inclusion and belonging is a positive achievement.”