Trenita White was the first Black faculty member at Santa Fe College to establish Juneteenth events for students, faculty, staff and the Gainesville community.

White realized many people were unaware of Juneteenth, sparking the college president’s interest in promoting awareness and fostering change within the Santa Fe College community.

“The [college] president at the time asked us what we had planned for Juneteenth, and my response was, nothing, but then I planned a collaborative jeopardy on Zoom during COVID time,” White said.

Juneteenth is a holiday celebrated on June 19 to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the US. In 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill, later passed by Congress, declaring it a national holiday.

As posted on the White House website, “On June 19, 1865, freedom finally came for the 250,000 enslaved people of Texas. That day, which would become known as Juneteenth, the Army arrived to enforce what had already been the law of the land for two and a half years — the Emancipation Proclamation.”

After the success of the meet-up for the first Juneteenth celebration at Santa Fe College, White created the first in-person Juneteenth event at Santa Fe College in 2023. She connected all the Santa Fe College programs with education, a Divine Nine panel, food trucks and a gospel extravaganza.

“It was successful because my husband recorded it, and I was running all over the place,” White adds, “That is how it all got started and put together, starting from one part of it, and then it turned into something great.”

Trenita White and Palenthia Boswell worked side by side throughout the Juneteenth event. (Kaylamarie Bailey/WUFT NEWS)

Trenita White and Palenthia Boswell worked side by side throughout the Juneteenth event. (Kaylamarie Bailey/WUFT NEWS)

White is the president of the Association of Black Faculty and Staff at Santa Fe College, which was created in Fall 2019. The purpose of the association is to increase collaboration amongst its members.

This year at Santa Fe College, Juneteenth was celebrated with engaging activities, food trucks, arts and crafts, a gospel extravaganza and discussions on community impact and history. Juneteenth: Honoring the Journey to Freedom – Reflection and Resilience – and Still We Rise.

White, born and raised in Perry, Florida, has been a librarian at Santa Fe College since 1985. She received her undergraduate degree in statistics at the University of Florida and her master’s in library sciences at Florida State University. This year is White’s 39th anniversary of working at Santa Fe College, and she is not retiring anytime soon.

“My favorite moments as a librarian are the students; I want to make an impact on my students and leave them inspired,” White said.

Palenthia Boswell was born in Gainesville and received her associate and bachelor’s degrees in education at Santa Fe College and her master’s in family, youth, and community science at UF. Boswell is the assistant registrar at the college and has known White for three years. White appointed Boswell as this year’s leader and chair for the Juneteenth event at the college.

“Following along after White events like Juneteenth pulls us closer together and recognizes Santa Fe stands with the community; like our Black Faculty and Staff, we have a duty to reach back into the community,” Boswell said.

The Association of Black Faculty and Staff gave closing statements and applauded the success of the Juneteenth event. (Kaylamarie Bailey/WUFT NEWS)

The Association of Black Faculty and Staff gave closing statements and applauded the success of the Juneteenth event. (Kaylamarie Bailey/WUFT NEWS)

“One of my favorite memories is when I first met her; she remembered my last name and was always like Boswell, Boswell; I know that name,” Palenthia Boswell said.

Johnny Boswell, an associate pastor at Passage Family Church and husband to Palenthia, was a student in White’s mathematics class in 1997 at the college.

“She helped my wife put this together, and they’ve been working together to help bring better awareness to the African American culture at Santa Fe and get more African American students involved,” Johnny Boswell said.

“It’s a blessing that they’re working together to set an atmosphere at Santa Fe,” Boswell said.

Kelly Miller, secretary of the Association of Black Faculty and Staff and English professor, has known White for three years through the association of Black faculty and Staff.

“We did a college event tabling, the African American Black Faculty and Staff table, and our table was the most live table; people coming up to us and sharing laughs with each other,” Miller adds, “It was a good time with White.”

“White is always on top of her game, and you need to have someone like that as a president because she pushes everyone to be their best,” Miller said.