Published June 16, 2022
UB is celebrating Juneteenth this week with events focused on Black culture.
Designated a federal holiday last year, Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. It is celebrated each June 19, which is the day federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, in 1865 to inform enslaved people that slavery had been abolished.
On Wednesday afternoon, UB Counseling Services sponsored a “Pre-Juneteenth Wellness Celebration” in the Student Union lobby.
The event, which organizers plan to make an annual tradition, included West African snacks and food provided by three local Black-owned businesses: Sunshine Vegan Eats, Brothers Restaurant and Bar, and Cake Crazy Bakery.
“We want to bring awareness to Juneteenth, to shed light to the contributions and beauty of Black culture,” said Andrea Obah, a psychology intern who planned the event with Carissa Uschold-Klepfer, assistant director for outreach, and psychologist Stephanie Chong, all in Counseling Services.
Obah, a counseling psychology PhD candidate at Carlow University, added that “this country was built on the back of African slaves. Black people in America don’t get the credit for the state of the country we live in.”
Wednesday’s event also featured dancing to Afrobeat — a music genre that combines West African and American musical styles— alongside Zumba instructors, as well as mental health resources and an inspiration board for students to express themselves.
While Juneteenth has traditionally been celebrated by Black people, Obah said, it’s her hope that people from different backgrounds will join these celebrations.
“We want to stress a sense of community and wellness, with everyone celebrating together as they should,” she said.
On Friday, the Intercultural and Diversity Center is hosting a Juneteenth celebration from 2-4 p.m. in Room 240 in the Student Union. All students, faculty and staff and welcome to attend.
The on-campus events coincide with other Juneteenth celebrations occurring in Buffalo and across the country.
Buffalo’s Juneteenth Festival, started in 1976 by the community organization B.U.I.L.D., is being held from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday in Martin Luther King Jr. Park. The celebration includes a parade, vendors, food and entertainment, and more. There will also be a special area within the festival grounds for quiet reflection and healing in observance of the racist mass shooting on May 14 at the Tops market on Jefferson Avenue.