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Juneteenth marks the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and was officially named a federal holiday in 2021.

CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Juneteenth is the newest federal holiday after it was first recognized officially in 2021. But it’s been celebrated by Black Americans for generations, marking the end of slavery. 

It’s less than a week away, but ceremonies are already happening across San Diego County, including the South Bay. 

Southwestern College held an event Thursday that honors the past and celebrates future. 

The annual Juneteenth Jubilee included a flag raising ceremony, dance performances and live gospel music. It all provided a symbol of freedom and equality.

“Recognizing that Juneteenth is not only Black history, but it’s all of our history,” Janelle Williams Melendrez said.

To mark the significant day, Southwestern College Office of Equity and Inclusion partnered with SWC’s Black Alliance to put on a vibrant celebration of freedom, culture and diversity.

“The one thing that makes me proud about African American culture is our resilience and our capacity to love despite anything and everything we’ve had to deal with,” Dr. Jonathan Henderson said.

Leaders of Southwestern College say it serves as a reminder to embrace and uphold values of social justice and equality for all, by honoring the past, reflecting on progress and striving for a more inclusive future. 

“It’s not just about giving everyone the same thing, it’s about giving them what they uniquely need in order to be successful here,” Dr. Henderson added.

Juneteenth marks the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and was officially named a federal holiday three years prior. It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Junior Day was designated in 1983.

“The trauma that not only lives with those who were the enslaved Africans, but the descendants and how that’s passed down from generations to generations,” Williams Melendrez added.

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