Anitre Bell is a College Success Facilitator and Instructor at Community College of Beaver County.
On June 16, 2021, President Joe Biden deemed Juneteenth a federal holiday, which was a monumental day in history. June 19, 1865, also known as Juneteenth in the African American community, is a day of celebration. This marks the day the last enslaved people in Galveston Bay, Texas were freed due to the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation two years prior. From concerts to festivals, organizations and campuses nationwide are incorporating Juneteenth celebrations. Our campus understands the importance of diversity, and we celebrate Juneteenth in many ways.
Celebrate good times
Our college celebrates diversity and various cultures throughout the year. Besides Juneteenth, we hold a variety of other events on campus, such as the Native American Gathering in October each year. At the Community College of Beaver County (CCBC) our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee (DEI) is instrumental in ensuring everyone is represented properly because representation matters.
An African American student created The Black Student Union Club in July 2022 to bring more diversity to our campus community. Through this club, students have hosted many activities such as a book club, volunteering in the community and participating in the biannual open mic night.
Our Juneteenth luncheon consists of games and activities for students and staff on campus. Last year’s luncheon was a success with twenty faculty and students participating. Another integral piece of the luncheon was to patronize a local black-owned restaurant. This event was a success because everyone was able to learn more about Juneteenth.
It is important to recognize and provide opportunities for intercultural exchange among students, faculty, and staff. For our employees, we hold a professional development day around Juneteenth each year. On this day, employees participated in a racial wealth gap simulation to learn more about the disparities faced by Black Americans. This stimulation provides an understanding of how federal policies have created and sustained the gaps in wealth, income, and hunger between Black and White Americans. This stimulation provides more context and analysis for each of the thirteen policies featured in the simulation.
Juneteenth honors heritage and celebrates connections to tradition, citizenship, and freedom that began in enslavement. I would hope that people use Juneteenth as a time to reflect on those generations that came before us—their sacrifices and struggles—and that we would be inspired in our time to continue to work to fulfill the promises of democracy. June 19, 1865, and June 16, 2021, are two historical days and should be celebrated and commemorated as such.
Now I invite you to consider: How does your institution celebrate Juneteenth for students, faculty, and staff?