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June 2, 2022

Afrofuturism takes center stage at second annual MSU Juneteenth celebration

Afrofuturism will be the central theme of Michigan State University’s second annual Juneteenth celebration at 5:30 p.m. Friday, June 17, at the Breslin Student Events Center.

Afrofuturism is a fluid aesthetic that examines the history of African Americans in society and uses that framework to create a better path forward for the current generation. This is often done through mediums such as art, music, literature and technology. 

“MSU’s celebration of Juneteenth reflects the university’s dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion and creating social change starting with our own campus,” said MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. “It’s exciting to see Spartans and our greater community come together to celebrate this historic day.”

Juneteenth (June 19) is a federal holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. The day has been celebrated annually across the U.S. since 1865.

“Juneteenth provides an opportunity to reflect upon the historical legacy, current state and future aspirations of the Black community still in search of true liberation,” said Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Jabbar R. Bennett, Ph.D.


This year’s keynote speaker is College of Arts and Letters English Professor Julian Chambliss. His research explores race, identity and power in urban spaces. Chambliss’ keynote will focus on Afrofuturism, what it is and its impact on society today. His keynote will also examine the relationship between Afrofuturism and speculative practice, which refers to the exploration of new ideas and pathways that will ultimately lead to liberation.

“The turn toward Afrofuturism as a theme for the Juneteenth celebration is exciting,” said Chambliss. “It offers the opportunity for our community to recognize the enduring legacy of an African American vision of freedom. The Black imagination embraces a liberatory transformation that promises community, prosperity and safety. Juneteenth offers the opportunity to acknowledge that we have achieved much, even as each new generation imagines a better world and works to make institutions like MSU a part of an equitable future.” 

Other speakers include:

  • MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.
  • Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Jabbar R. Bennett, Ph.D.
  • Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D.
  • Trustee Rema Vassar, Ph.D.
  • Trustee Renee Knake Jefferson, J.D.
  • Assistant Professor of History Nakia D. Parker, Ph.D.
  • Director of College Access Initiatives Stephanie Anthony, Ph.D.
  • President of the Black Faculty, Staff and Administrators Association Stratton Lee III
  • President of the Black Students’ Alliance Marcus McDaniel Jr.
  • President of the Black Graduate Student Association Antonio White.

The Harlem Renaissance art displays; the Black Wall Street business exhibition; and the College of Music’s Jazz Studies program will all be part of the Juneteenth jubilee. There will also be a fashion gala, live music and refreshments.

“The commemoration on our campus has been years in the making, and I am excited for this second year of celebration. By recognizing Juneteenth, MSU sends the message that we value the strength, perseverance and contributions of our African American community,” Bennett said.

“It is rewarding to see so many colleges, departments, and academic units engaged in, and providing support for, this year’s Juneteenth Celebration,” said MSU Provost Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. “This broadly inclusive participation from across the entire university will enrich our exploration of this year’s theme, Afrofuturism, and ensure that everyone sees their role in that expectant future.”


By: Mark Bullion

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