July 4 is still a few weeks away, but on June 19, Utahans celebrate our nation’s second Independence Day.
This year, Juneteenth became a holiday in Utah after Governor Spencer Cox signed legislation sponsored by Representative Sandra Hollins, the first black woman to serve in the Utah Legislative Assembly. This follows legislation that declared Juneteenth a federal holiday, which Joe Biden signed in 2021. Juneteenth has been celebrated by many black Americans for decades, but the holiday gained wider recognition in 2020, after the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others have flared up. widespread protests and increased attention to racial injustice.
Juneteenth celebrates emancipation from slavery. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, it could not be enforced in Confederate-controlled states. When the Civil War ended in 1865, Texas, the westernmost state of the Confederacy, was the last state to officially end slavery – on June 19, 1865, General of the Union Gordon Granger told slaves in Galveston, Texas that the Civil War was over. and that they were free. Since the end of the Civil War, the anniversary has been a local celebration of the end of slavery. Over time, Juneteenth has spread across the country, becoming a larger celebration of black history and culture in the United States.
Betty Sawyer, director of the African-American community group Project Success Coalition, led the first June 19 observance in Utah 32 years ago. Sawyer and the Ogden-based Project Success Coalition still host the Utah Juneteenth Festival, which this year includes a flag raising at the Salt Lake County Government Center, a three-day festival in Ogden, and other community events throughout the month. Here are the Juneteenth celebrations featured by the Project Success Coalition and other ways to honor Juneteenth this weekend and this month in Utah:
WHAT: Salt Lake County June 16th Celebration
WHERE: Salt Lake County Government Center, SLC
WHEN: June 17, 11:30 a.m.
WHAT: June 19 Welcome Reception
WHERE: Copper Nickel, Ogden
WHEN: June 17, 6-11 p.m.
WHAT: June 16 celebration in Utah
WHERE: Ogden City Amphitheatre, Ogden
WHEN: June 18, 12 p.m.-9 p.m.
WHAT: Salt Lake County Library June 19 Festival
WHERE: Viridian Event Center, West Jordan
WHEN: June 18, 4-9 p.m.
WHAT: June 16 Celebration at Real Salt Lake
WHERE: Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy
WHEN: June 18, 7:30 p.m.
WHAT: Color Summer Celebration
WHERE: The Sun Trapp, SLC
WHEN: June 19, 12 p.m.-6 p.m.
WHAT: Millcreek Skating Night
WHERE: Municipality of Millcreek, Millcreek
WHEN: June 19, 5-10 p.m.
WHAT: Salt Lake June 19 Celebration Walk
WHERE: Utah State Capitol, SLC
WHEN: June 20 at 10 a.m.
WHAT: Black Owned Business Fair
WHERE: Gateway, SLC
WHEN: June 20 at 12 p.m.
WHAT: Utah Juneteenth Health and Wellness Day
WHERE: Gallivan Center, SLC
WHEN: June 20, 12 p.m.-7 p.m.
WHAT: Excellence in Community Gospel Concert
WHERE: Gallivan Center, SLC
WHEN: June 20, 7-8:30 p.m.
WHAT: June 19 Flag Raising
WHERE: University of Utah Park Building, SLC
WHEN: June 21 at 9 a.m.
WHAT: Juneteenth Black Women’s Mural Project Unveiling with Better Days Utah
WHERE: 444 E. 600 South, SLC
WHEN: June 27
WHAT: June 19 Celebration in North Salt Lake
WHERE: Legacy Park, North Salt Lake
WHEN: June 27, 5-8 p.m.
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