Bay College celebrates Juneteenth for first time

Bay College celebrates Juneteenth for first time

ESCANABA, Mich. (WLUC) – Wednesday, federal offices closed to commemorate Juneteenth, a holiday that recognizes the day when slavery finally ended in the United States.

Bay College held celebrations on its campuses in Iron Mountain and Escanaba.

“Today is the day in 1865 when the very last enslaved black people in the United States became aware of their freedom,” Vice President of Academic Affairs and Educational Equity Amy Reddinger said.

Reddinger said the 250,000 who gained their freedom that day had actually been free since Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, they just didn’t know it.

“It took 18 months for those last people in Galveston, Texas to learn about their emancipation,” she said.

That is one of the many reasons why the college held its first Juneteenth celebration this year, which the college’s executive director of online learning said won’t be the last.

“Bay College has a really strong commitment to diversity,” Bay’s Executive Director of Online Learning Joseph Hold said. “We felt it was really important to celebrate this national holiday.”

The commemoration included lunch for students and staff. The Bay Cafe served red velvet cake for dessert. Reddinger said the cake has a special significance to Juneteenth.

According to, one meaning is that red foods represent the blood shed by enslaved people in the United States.

“We are truly a melting pot and when one person is enslaved, we are all enslaved,” Mold said. “And so, it’s important to recognize we’re celebrating this holiday because we are celebrating the freedom of all.”

He added the college chooses the federal holidays it recognizes specifically to represent its diverse student body and staff.

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