University of Northern Colorado graduate student Kassidy Woods organized a photo among a group of people outside the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center on Friday afternoon.
Despite the sweltering day, Woods and fellow student Trevis Graham stopped by the UNC house on 20th Street for an al fresco party – a splash of community and goodwill two days before the latest federal holiday, June 16.
“It’s events like this that bridge the divide and bring people together,” said Woods, 23, who is black and originally from Texas, where Juneteenth originated.
On June 19, 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to ensure that all enslaved people were freed. Woods, who is from Addison, Texas, said he was aware that June 16 was celebrated in black communities across the US before it officially became a federal holiday last year.
UNC, the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center, the City of Greeley and sponsor PDC Energy hosted the June 16 inaugural and public celebration Friday afternoon at the Garvey Center’s home at 20th Street and 10th Avenue on the UNC campus.
Since June 19 falls on a Sunday this year, the national holiday will be celebrated on Monday. Colorado is among a handful of states that also establish the day as a public employee holiday.
City of Greeley Recreation Manager Alex Reaves said the partnership at the June 16 event between the city, UNC and PDC Energy came together earlier this year.
“That’s important because we have people from different backgrounds and cultures,” Reaves said. “UNC is part of Greeley. Faculty and students and it’s good to work together.”
According to 2021 US Census data, of Greeley’s population of 109,000, 2.5% are solely Black or African American or report a race. Garvey Cultural Center director Janine Weaver-Douglas said the black student population at UNC accounts for about 4% of student enrollment. Those totals are smaller when viewed independently, Weaver-Douglas said.
The center is designed to support students of color, and it’s important that the center partner with the City of Greeley on an event for the center’s targeted student population, Weaver-Douglas said.
“Part of the goal this year, 2022-23, is to broaden their horizons,” she said of UNC students of color. “My job is to give them the resources and the space. It’s a family reunion and an opportunity to network about things that build relationships in some way, like food and music.”
The Marcus Garvey Cultural Center is named for Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican and black leader in the United States in the early 20th century. The center’s website calls Garvey “probably the most charismatic African-American leader until Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
Woods and Graham are both members of the UNC football team. Graham, 22, is also black and in his case also from Texas, Arlington. He said Woods broke the June 16 event through a group text chat.
“We wanted to get involved and show love. We’re all the same and that’s what it’s about,” Woods added.
The theme of the opening event was June 16th: A Family Reunion, which allowed attendees to visit, come and go and enjoy food, music and vendors in a family reunion-like atmosphere.
Event organizers estimated that between 125 and 300 people attended. They planned for about 100 people to attend. Weaver-Douglas “wasn’t sure if people would support the event” since it was the first to be held on a Friday afternoon and on a hot day, she said.
Weaver-Douglas doesn’t know if the event will be annual; that remains to be seen. Since June 16 is a new holiday and may not be known to some, Weaver-Douglas hopes the day will spark conversations about its history and origins.
“I think it’s important that Juneteenth is in our landscape,” Weaver-Douglas said. “I’m happy and excited about it. It’s about time.”
https://www.greeleytribune.com/2022/06/17/its-past-time-university-northern-colorado-and-greeley-host-inaugural-juneteenth-event/ The University of Northern Colorado and Greeley are hosting the inaugural event on June 16th