Standard-Examiner staff

OGDEN — Against the backdrop of a national furor over racial injustice, Weber State University is again sponsoring Utah’s Juneteenth Freedom and Heritage Festival, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

“We currently are experiencing issues around racism, inequality and discrimination,” said Betty Sawyer, WSU Access and Diversity community engagement coordinator, in a press release “Without coming to terms with the legacy of slavery, and all of its byproducts, we spend more time denying than making meaningful progress dismantling those systems embodied within slavery and racism. Instead, we need to promote and do the work of justice and equality.”

This year’s festival is centered around the theme “Perfecting Unity — United In Hope.”

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, most of the events will be held virtually. They are free and open to the public.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Celebrations first began in Texas following the end of the Civil War. In 1980, Texas became the first state to declare Juneteenth a state holiday. In 2016, Utah officially recognized Juneteenth as a state holiday.

Events include:

Monday, June 15

”Our Story: Genealogy and Storytelling.” Beginning at 7 p.m., this interactive webinar will feature the Utah Afro-American Historical and Genealogy Society and the Nubian Storytellers of Utah Leadership. The event will help document and share family histories and stories.

Tuesday, June 16

“BOSS: The Black Experience in Business.” Juneteenth participants can watch a 7:30 p.m. virtual screening of this film produced by Peabody and Emmy award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson that examines more than 150 years of business experience of African American men and women.

Friday, June 19

The State of Black Utah Town Hall. This virtual event will begin at 6 p.m. and discuss “Mind, Body and Spirit: Black Mental Health in the Midst of Crisis.” Youth, young adults and emerging leaders have a chance to share how they are coping with racism and injustices.

Excellence in the Community Juneteenth Concert. The concert will stream live from 8-9 p.m. from the Gallivan Center in Salt Lake City.

Saturday, June 20

Commemorative Caravan. The community is invited to join a caravan on foot or in vehicles to celebrate and honor Juneteenth. Participants can line up for the caravan at 10 a.m. in front of the Marshall White Community Center, 222 28th St., Ogden.

Virtual Festival and Celebration. Facebook, Instagram and Zoom will have live dancing, drumming, gospel, hip hop, jazz, R&B and spoken-word performances. From 8-9 p.m., watch the Excellence in the Community Juneteenth Concert, streaming live from the Gallivan Center.

Utah’s Juneteenth Festival is hosted by the Project Success Coalition in collaboration with local businesses and organizations including Weber State University.

You can reach reporter Mark Shenefelt at mshenefelt@standard.net or 801 625-4224. Follow him on Twitter at

@mshenefelt.

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