The FAU Center for Inclusion, Diversity Education, and Advocacy (IDEAs) and Florida State Senator Lori Berman hosted two separate events on the history of Juneteenth on June 18th and 19th.
FAU CENTER OF IDEAS
The FAU Center of IDEAS in partnership with the Weppner Center for Civic Engagement and Service-Learning hosted an event named “Juneteenth: The Forgotten Holiday” for students and professors on June 18.
Moderated by David Bynes, the Assistant Director of Diversity Education and Training and the Assistant Director of Student Activities and Involvement, the event had 50 viewers speaking about their experiences and what Juneteenth means to them.
The event opened with a 90 second moment of silence, before the singing of the Negro National Anthem by Jayla Thompson, a student at FAU. Shortly thereafter, an introductory video was played about Juneteenth, and what the holiday is celebrating.
The conversation then went to the panelists, consisting of professors at FAU such as Dr. Bianca Nightingale-Lee and Dr. Lena Copeland, who spoke on their experiences and what Juneteenth means to them. Common words that were brought up when panelists were speaking were: “freedom, opportunity, and liberation.”
“To me, Juneteenth represents the reverberating effects of slavery that still shake the foundation upon which we stand today,” Dr. Copeland.
The conversation then went to what students and faculty at FAU can do to uphold the holiday of Juneteenth and uphold the conversation of racial injustice on campus, which included a discussion on whether Juneteenth should be made a national holiday.
Bynes added, “When we talk about the breadth of social justice, we have to talk about economic justice, environmental justice.”
One of the final topics was having what was deemed “difficult conversations” about race, and why people should be moving towards having these conversations.
“I’m just glad we’re finally at the point where we talk about it, we’ll talk about it tomorrow, and have this real talk conversation around what this means,” Bynes said.
Dr. Andrea Guzman Oliver, FAU’s Associate Vice President for Student Outreach and Diversity, promoted the event on Twitter, stating that the “first step to addressing systemic racism is understanding the geniuses of America.”
The first step to addressing systemic racism is understanding the genises of America. Join #FAU’s @FAUIDEAs and @SI_FAU for a conversation on #JuneteenthDay. pic.twitter.com/asqtNN3OIx
— Dr. Andrea Oliver (@FAU_AVP_SA) June 17, 2020
“AS WOMEN, AS LEADERS”
Berman hosted a discussion centered around Juneteenth called “As Women, As Leaders,” on June 19 via Zoom, featuring 13 community representatives, including Dr. Oliver.
The discussion was a follow-up to a previous discussion Berman hosted on June 5 that discussed the importance of recognizing racial injustice.
The call featured 13 women, including:
Congresswoman Lois Frankel
Palm Beach State College President Ava Parker
Palm Beach State College Director of Security Delsa Bush
Vice Mayor of Delray Beach Shirley Johnson
Vice Mayor of Westlake Katrina Long-Robinson
Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay
Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker
Palm Beach County Teacher Jasmin Lewis
COO of Manifest Church Charlotte Wright
Corporate Marketing and Social Responsibility Consultant Leontyne D. Brown
Temple Beth El’s Rabbi Jessica Mates
“Having discussions such as this one starts the listening, the education, and the action,” Berman told the panel. “I can not be more proud to be having this discussion with such an illustrious and esteemed panel of women, leaders of Palm Beach County.”
The discussion consisted of everyone sharing their perspectives on Juneteenth while understanding its importance in American history.
Oliver understands the importance of Juneteenth as it symbolizes freedom; the day slavery ended in the United States.
“This is extremely important because the Declaration of Independence was signed almost 90 years prior to the end of slavery. The Constitution of the United States was written 76 years prior to the end of slavery. The national anthem was written 51 years prior to the end of slavery. None of these considered people who were enslaved as “people”, let alone Americans,” Oliver explained. “Today, we see federal and state laws applied differently to people depending on the color of their skin or socio-economics without repercussions; demonstrating how systemic inequities are sustained.”
With her title, Oliver plans to teach students that Juneteenth Day may symbolize the day slaves were set free in the United States, but it does not symbolize the end of inequalities, injustices, or racism in the United States.
“I also plan to teach students to critically think about national holidays and American traditions and then determine whether they were intended for all people in the United States,” Oliver said.
Oliver believes it is important that Juneteenth Day is recognized as a national holiday because it explains why systemic racism exists.
“We should be teaching all of the histories that make up ‘American History’. As horrible as slavery is, it is very much a part of American history,” Oliver states. “By truly understanding our history, we can make informed civic decisions and demand legislative changes that are truly written by the people, for the people.”
Oliver promoted the discussion on Twitter, highlighting “their plans of action for racial injustice” and it got over 1,600 views on Facebook. The full discussion can be viewed on Berman’s Facebook page.
Join us for Part 2 of “As Women. As Leaders” as we share our plans of action for racial justice. Because “a dream without a plan, is just a wish” (Katherine Paterson). #FAU pic.twitter.com/V8lEOzruwP
— Dr. Andrea Oliver (@FAU_AVP_SA) June 19, 2020
Joseph Acosta and Richard Pereira are staff writers for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected], [email protected] or tweet them @acosta32_JP, @Richard042601.