UTA's annual Juneteenth celebration to bring community, culture to campus

Attendees dance during the Annual Juneteenth Celebration on June 14 at Brazos Park. Food, music and information booths were available. 

UTA is hosting its annual Juneteenth celebration Tuesday, featuring special performances, barbecue and guest speakers to reflect on the holiday’s cultural significance. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Brazos Park.

“There are some very difficult challenges for African Americans in U.S. history and Juneteenth, like King Day, is one of those times where we have to reflect on that history. How far we’ve come, what needs to be done and what do we need to do to get to where we need to go,” Dr. Jason Shelton, director of the Center for African American Studies, said.

Tailar Brown-Smith, program coordinator for the Center for African American Studies, said that knowing Juneteenth is a Texas-based holiday that commemorates the end of slavery, she feels there should be more awareness of the event.

“It’s just a time for people to gather, to reflect, build community and just learn the history of this holiday,” Brown-Smith said. “I feel like it’s just a teachable moment.”

Some of the guest presenters of the event are keynote speaker Dr. Delaina Price, assistant professor of American history, and Rocky Turner, “Rock-T”, a UTA alumnus and host of the Rickey Smiley Morning Show. Rock-T will be the primary emcee and host of the event.

Brown-Smith said that a few participants of the Miss Juneteenth DFW pageant will be performing their opening acts and two of the participants will showcase their talents, including spoken poetry and gymnastics. There will be a young men’s singing group called “2BYG” attending, who performed at the pageant as well.

There will also be a screening of “Echoes from the Hill,” a documentary that focuses on Arlington’s historical Black community, at 12:30 p.m. in the Rosebud Theatre. Shelton said that the documentary was chosen to highlight the African American community and the challenges they’ve faced.

“It’s connected to the broader story and the broader message of Juneteenth. One of inequality, one of challenge, one of the circumstances that African Americans have faced,” Shelton said. “And that story, right here in Texas, in this city of Arlington, is why we’re choosing to show that documentary.”

Free parking will be available at the College Park South Garage on 550 S. Center St.