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June 14, 2023

MSU’s 3rd annual Juneteenth jubilee to celebrate 158 years of progress

The free educational celebration is open to members of the public starting at 4:30 p.m.

Preparations are currently underway for Michigan State University’s third annual Juneteenth Jubilee on Friday, June 16. Juneteenth is a federal holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas.

The observance, which will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Breslin Student Events Center, embodies the historical and cultural significance of Juneteenth and allows the university to provide a platform to honor this day of significance in our nation’s history.

“The third annual Michigan State University Juneteenth Celebration is an important moment for our campus community to come together and commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African Americans,” said Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Jabbar R. Bennett. “Through this event, we foster a sense of belonging, celebrate African American culture and inspire meaningful conversations that promote understanding and progress.” 

This year’s program will be emceed by music educator, violinist and MSU College of Music alum Rodney Page. Bennett will provide brief remarks at the beginning of the program. 

The celebration will feature several dynamic, educational and culturally enriching opportunities, including the history of Idlewild, or the “Black Eden of Michigan.” Idlewild was one of the few resort towns in the country where African Americans could safely vacation from 1912 through the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  

The commemoration also will include a Black Wall Street vendor fair, named after the prosperous Greenwood neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and will feature local Black businesses.  

Musical performances for the evening will be led by Gregory D and Company and the MSU College of Music Jazz Quintet.  

Recognizing this federal holiday honors the commitment set forward to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus community — in and out of the classroom. 

In addition to its annual Juneteenth Celebration, MSU continues to take meaningful steps forward and honors the faculty and staff who — through research, scholarship and teaching — are helping support students and our campus community in learning diverse histories and expanding perspectives. 

Professor of English Julian Chambliss has made significant contributions to the field of Afrofuturism, which explores the intersection of African diasporic culture, technology and imagination. Chambliss is widely known for his scholarship on Afrofuturism, the Black imaginary and Black superheroes, especially within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Department of African American and African Studies Chairperson and MSU Research Foundation Professor Ruth Nicole Brown has been instrumental in establishing a welcoming environment for Black feminism and promoting a sense of belonging on MSU’s campus. Last fall, the department celebrated the opening of a new academic space in Kedzie Hall and the launch of a new bachelor’s degree.  

MSU also broke ground this spring on a 34,000-square-foot standalone multicultural center, a facility that will foster cultural and intellectual curiosity and understanding in a supportive, welcoming environment. A few planned features include collaboration spaces, a large common area, prayer rooms and an outdoor amphitheater. The facility is expected to be completed by fall 2024. 

An RSVP is requested for members of the public interested in attending the celebration.

By: Mark Bullion

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