OMA to celebrate Juneteenth with discussions, performances

A hybrid Juneteenth event will be hosted at the St. Pete campus’ University Student Center Ballroom on Friday by the Office of Multicultural Affairs. ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

The Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) will be hosting a celebration of freedom and an informative panel Friday to commemorate Juneteenth, which is June 19.

Although the event will be at the University Student Center Ballroom on the St. Pete campus, attendees can also join virtually via Microsoft Teams. Opening remarks will begin at 11:30 a.m. and the mix of discussion panels and performances are expected to end at 1:30 p.m. OMA will also be providing catering for attendees at its expense.

Typical COVID-19 mitigation, such as mask wearing and social distancing, will not be enforced, but Assistant Director of Diversity Programming Johanna Heule said there will be ample space to do so if attendees prefer to.

Juneteenth is an annual holiday used to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved persons in the U.S. Despite former President Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, not all slaves were immediately released beacuse of the ongoing rebellion of the Civil War, according to the Oxford Languages Dictionary. 

With the combat finally coming to a close in 1865, various states began celebrating the liberation that year and in 1866 the day was celebrated across the nation, according to Vox. However, Juneteenth was not recognized as a federal holiday until 2021. 

The celebration will be broken up into different sections, including an overview on the holiday’s history, a panel discussion paired with a Q&A and audience reflection as well as artistic performances. Participants include faculty, staff and some students.