ashland.news
June 17, 2024

Southern Oregon University to observe Juneteenth on Tuesday, June 11

The Juneteenth flag flies next to the U.S. Flag in front of Churchill Hall on the campus of Southern Oregon University in June 2023. Bob Palermini photo
June 8, 2024

Students and community members are invited to join in observing the holiday 

By Cameron Aalto, Ashland.News

Two members of the SOU ROTC raise the Juneteenth flag at the Juneteenth event on the SOU campus in 2023. Bob Palermini photo

Southern Oregon University will observe Juneteenth on Tuesday, June 11, with a program featuring guest speaker Vaun Monroe, assistant professor for the school’s Digital Media program; and remarks from Ashland City Councilor Gina DuQuenne, SOU President Rick Bailey, and SOU Assistant Vice President for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Jonathan Chavez Baez. 

Juneteenth “has a very strong importance to our African American Black community,” Chavez Baez said. The holiday commemorates the official end to slavery as announced by Union soldiers in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, after nearly three years of continued enslavement past the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln. “As you look at the history, and as I learn more about the history myself as well, (the Emancipation Proclamation) was signed into law much much earlier, but on this day in Galveston, Texas is when it was declared, and when it was officially enforced.” 

Baez says that it’s important to celebrate Juneteenth on campus because “our Black African American students on campus are part of our community, are part of our student body, are part of our faculty (and) staff — so it’s important that they’re represented, that they’re honored, that they see that they belong here on our campus. If there’s a day designated to celebrate that day, we need to make sure that we honor that as well.”

The event will be held in front lawn of the historic Churchill Hall starting at 11 a.m. Speakers will make their remarks, followed by a flag raising ceremony of the Juneteenth flag performed by the university’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Cadets. Refreshments will follow. 

Gina Duquenne spoke to the those gathered at the Churchill Hall lawn for the Juneteenth celebration, commemoration and flag raising event on the SOU campus in June 2023. She’ll speak again this year. Bob Palermini photo

The deets
Juneteenth Celebration
11 a.m. Tuesday, June 11, Churchill Hall front lawn 
Southern Oregon University, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland

Black Alliance & Social Empowerment (BASE) Southern Oregon
will host a Juneteenth celebration from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 15, at Pear Blossom Park in Medford, and a Juneteenth Green Show on the Bricks at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival campus at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, June 19.

Instead of observing Juneteenth on its official date (June 19), the university will observe it on June 11. Chavez Baez says they will celebrate the event earlier so that students and staff can participate before the school year is over, “as we aim to make sure that the efforts that our institution does to make sure that students feel that they’re seen and they’re honored, it was important for us … to pick a date that would be the most appropriate to make sure that students that wished to attend would, faculty and staff that wished to attend, could attend.”

Chavez Baez says that SOU’s participation in celebrating the holiday is important to recognizing the contributions that African American and Black “experiences, cultures, and contributions” have made to our campus and our country. 

The event is open to all community members and students. The public can get involved “just by showing up” Chavez Baez said.

“The important part here is showing up and listening to the messages being shared, learning about the history of Juneteenth and what the implications are and the impact that it made, and the impact that it still needs to make now a days, and how can people support causes that improve the experiences of Black African American communities in Southern Oregon, the state, and the country,” Chavez Baez said. “That’s the best way to support efforts and causes like these.”

Ashland.news intern Cameron Aalto is a senior at Southern Oregon University. Email him at aaltoc@sou.edu.

Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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