juneteenthJuneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is a holiday in the United States honoring African American heritage by commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. State of Texas in 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger announced freedom for all slaves in the Southwest. Texas was the last major vestige of slavery in the United States following the end of the Civil War. This occurred more than two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln. Upon the reading of General Order No. 3 by General Granger, the former slaves celebrated, establishing America’s second Independence Day celebration and the oldest African American holiday observance. Celebrated on June 19, the term is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth, and is recognized as a state holiday in 36 states of the United States.  It is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

The 18th annual Northwest Arkansas Juneteenth celebration will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 13, 2015 at Murphy Park, 501 S. Pleasant Street in Springdale. Juneteenth, or the “19th of June,” commemorates the anniversary of African American emancipation, 150 years ago this year.

Juneteenth activities include live musical entertainment by Genine LaTrice Perez, Christian Life Cathedral Choir, Xtreme Achiever and Flow Game, as well as a silent auction to benefit student scholarships, an old-fashioned cookout and fun activities for all ages. The event also includes a health fair with medical and dental screenings.

Razorback athletes will provide a special Juneteenth story time, and the St. James Missionary Baptist Church Dance Team will also perform. All activities are free and the public is invited. A full schedule of the day’s events is available online.

From Roots in Galveston to A National Observance

In 2006, the Arkansas Legislature first recognized Juneteenth as a state memorial day commemorated by a proclamation from Gov. Mike Huckabee. Juneteenth today provides an opportunity to rejoice and reflect. The celebration honors African American freedom and achievement with a strong emphasis on scholarships, responsible community citizenship, continuous self-development, and respect for all cultures.


The Northwest Arkansas Juneteenth Celebration is sponsored (in alphabetical order) by Arvest Bank, Merlin and Beverly Augustine and family, Coca Cola, Frito Lay, the Northwest Arkansas branch of the NAACP, Nickelodeon/Viacom, the NWA Community Clinic, Proctor and Gamble, Penguin Ed’s, PepsiCo, Robinson Fresh, Sam’s Club, Sonic/KVS, St. James Missionary Baptist Church, Tyson Foods and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Additional sponsors from the University of Arkansas include: the U of A Black Alumni Society, the College of Education and Health Professions, the School of Law, University Libraries, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance, UAPD, the Division of Student Affairs.

Visit the NWA Juneteenth Celebration’s website to learn more about the event, or to register as a sponsor for this, or next year’s celebration. Through annual expressions of philanthropy from the community – from individuals, businesses and organizations – Northwest Arkansas is able to honor the traditions of Juneteenth.

About Diversity Affairs

Diversity Affairs works to enhance educational and professional diversity by seeking to integrate individuals from varied backgrounds and characteristics such as those defined by race, ethnicity, national origin, age, gender, veteran status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background and intellectual perspective.  Diversity Affairs supports initiatives and facilitates programs that seek to enhance the university’s ability to recruit and retain underrepresented students, faculty and staff, and strives to protect the rights of the underrepresented while nurturing a welcoming campus environment.

About the University of Arkansas

The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.