Clarion University of Pennsylvania will host its 20th annual Juneteenth Jubilee Celebration at 11 a.m. June 17 in the auditorium of Grunenwald Science and Technology Center and online at pennwest-edu.zoom.us/my/drcroskey. The event is free and open to all.
Juneteenth celebrates the day in 1865 when enslaved people of African descent in Texas
learned of their freedom after the Civil War, more than two years after the Emancipation
Proclamation was issued. The holiday was originally celebrated with prayer meetings
and by singing spirituals and wearing new clothes to represent newfound freedom.
Clarion's program will include music, poetry and a keynote address by Bill Strickland (at right), founder and executive chairman of Manchester Bidwell Corporation and its subsidiaries. Strickland's educational model creates empowering education environments for adults in transition, as well as urban and at-risk youth. Throughout his distinguished career, Strickland has been honored with numerous awards for his contributions to arts and the community, including the coveted MacArthur Genius award. He is also the author of "Make the Impossible Possible."
A southern-style lunch will be served in the lobby following the program.
Clarion University has been celebrating Juneteenth for 20 years, since Dr. Brenda Sanders-Dede brought it to campus from her roots in Texas. Dede, former associate vice president for academic affairs, retired in 2018.
Dr. Joseph Croskey, executive director of Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education's Frederick Douglass Institutes and director of Clarion University Advising Center, organized this year's celebration.
"Often we celebrate holidays to mark special occasions in our history," Croskey said. "The events leading up to Juneteenth are like no other in world history and, therefore, are noteworthy and serve as a clarion call that we must strive daily to be leaders in creating a free and just society as we address inequities."
He said it's important to observe Juneteenth for several reasons.
"Juneteenth can be a celebration of family, food and community. It can also be a way to pause and measure progress toward freedom and equality for all, ensuring that we live up to the spirit of the words in the U.S. Declaration of Independence: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.'"
Croskey encourages all on this Juneteenth holiday to remember the importance of listening to, understanding and accepting different voices.