UNL holds first-ever Juneteenth celebration
Holiday marks end of slavery in the US
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – On Monday, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln hosted its first-ever Juneteenth commemoration.
One of the youngest attendees, 7-year-old Zemira Wolfe, shared what she’s learned about Juneteenth over the past weekend.
“That on Juneteenth, Black and brown people were not slaved anymore,” she said.
Zemira’s mother, Rudi, is an educator in Lincoln. While she did not grow up celebrating Juneteenth, Rudi said it’s important to her that her daughter grows up learning about the holiday.
The two have spent time together over the past couple of days doing just that.
“We actually had a book about Juneteenth, so I read it to her at bedtime and we just talked about what it meant, the colors, the symbols,” Rudi said. “We’re just enjoying learning more about Juneteenth and what it means to African Americans and the end of slavery.”
Juneteenth is a holiday on June 19, though the federal holiday was observed on Monday this year, that commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States.
It has been celebrated as a federal holiday for the past two years.
Federal, state and local government workers had Monday off, as did some businesses.
Marco Barker is the vice chancellor of diversity and inclusion at UNL.
He said he first learned about Juneteenth in college and attended his first Juneteenth event 10 years ago.
“This idea about recognizing Juneteenth as Freedom Day as a really important time to celebrate and to really commemorate is one that’s probably still recent for our country,” Barker said.
Emilie Ahern said she and her family recently moved to Lincoln from Utah.
A mother of five, she said it’s important to her that her kids understand and commemorate the historical significance of Juneteenth.
“We just moved to this community, and I feel like as white members of the community, it’s my obligation to teach my children more about Juneteenth and about inclusion and how we can be allies and advocates for our Black and other people of color in the area,” Ahern said.
This is the first year that the university has held a formal celebration of the holiday, something that Barker helped bring to UNL.
“For us, we cannot miss the opportunity to do our part in terms of making Juneteenth more of a significance here at Nebraska at the university and certainly in Lincoln,” he said.