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Campus Scene: Celebrating Juneteenth

two young women lean against the Utah Black History Museum’s mobile exhibit
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“All visitors welcome,” reads the handwritten sign tucked underneath a long, slender windshield wiper of the Utah Black History Museum’s mobile exhibit.

Below it, sharing space with the same bus windshield, a poster advertises events for Utah State University’s Juneteenth celebration — the first since it became a state holiday in 2022. If you’re unfamiliar with Juneteenth you’ve come to the right place. The museum’s mobile exhibit features paintings of prominent Black figures of the American West including Mormon pioneer Jane Manning James and explorer James P. Beckwourth, who was born into slavery and later freed by his owner and father. The bus was deployed to USU for Juneteenth activities June 17–19.

For many Americans, slavery ended when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. But it took more than two years for word to reach enslaved people in Texas. It wasn’t until Union Army General Gordon Granger posted General Order No. 3, which announced that the Emancipation Proclamation would be enforced, in Galveston on June 19. 1865, that enslaved people understood they were free.

“Juneteenth to me is a reminder of how far we’ve come as a country, and how far we still need to go,” said junior Nura Omer, USU’s Black Student Union incoming president and former marketing manager, in a USU video before the event. “It’s also a commemoration of the millions of people that this country was built on the backs of who weren’t even seen as people at the time.”

Omer (right) is pictured with past BSU president Hal Magnuson (left), who works to make all students feel safe and that they belong at USU. The BSU helped organize panel discussions with USU alumni, an interfaith devotional, community 5K race, and bring the Utah Black History Museum’s mobile exhibit to the Logan campus. The goal was to celebrate the end of slavery and build unity in the community and beyond.

“[Juneteenth] reminds me that I’m super privileged where I am and I have all of these opportunities,” Omer said. “And it kind of makes me sad because there are so many dreamers that never got to fulfill that.”

By Kristen Munson

Juneteenth Fall Fundraiser

Debra Bonner Unity Gospel Choir Concert
Daines Concert Hall
Saturday, 17th September 2022 @ 7:30 pm
$20 for adults, $10 for children and USU Students

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