App State students, faculty, and staff gathered on June 15 to attend a college event honoring Juneteenth.
The event included a unity vigil; a discussion with App State Police on relations with students, professors and the police; and a “Lunch-Learning” presentation by Rodney Dawson, an education curator at the Greensboro Museum of History. The events lasted from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and were hosted by Diversity Manager Jamie Parson.
June 19 is a national holiday honoring the emancipation of slaves in the United States, where President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation reached Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. President Joe Biden has moved to recognize it federally June 15, 2021making it the second year it is celebrated as a national holiday.
The unity vigil was held outside the National Panhellenic Plots and Gardens, where attendees commemorated June 19 and the victims and survivors of the recent mass shootings. They were joined by Pastor Reggie Hunt, Rabbi Alty Weinreb and Lamont Sellers, director of App State’s cross-cultural student affairs department.
Hunt, who spoke first, recalled lines from the Bob Marley song “Warand posed the question of how long it will take to resolve the issues of mass violence and social injustice.
“Every world changer, every prophet, every leader, every activist has had to ask the question, ‘How long?'” Hunt said. “How long are we pushing towards this pain? How long do we push on with diminishing hope? How long do we push? How long do we cry out in faith and hope to God above, or to surrounding communities, or to legislative decision makers who seem to be passive? »
Weinreb spoke about the June 19 celebration and how the community has grown to establish a new sense of understanding with the new national holiday.
“It’s a celebration of progress. An affirmation that despite the most painful times in American history, change is possible. said Weinreb.
The vendors, who spoke last, asked those present to find the strength in themselves and in their communities to act, rather than experience the events in silence.
“We’ve heard from those on social media and those who find themselves in front of the cameras offering prayers, thoughts and condolences, but that doesn’t go far enough,” Sellers said. “Each of us who are here today, each of us has a sphere of influence. We have a circle of friends and family. We have the opportunity to act.”
Sellers also spoke about fighting ongoing social injustices and using his constitutional rights.
“Last night I was with our Mandela Washington Scholars and someone asked about exercising our rights here in the United States as a black person, and I told them that I find it a complete disrespect not to exercise my right to vote or one of my other rights granted to me by the Constitution,” the sellers said. “It’s a personal affront, to me, and disrespect to the memory of all those who died and all those who sacrificed themselves over the years to get to where we are now; and we still have a long way to go.
During the educational session, Dawson, an education curator at the Greensboro History Museum, spoke about the impact of societal connections on the black community in Greensboro, North Carolina during the civil rights movement. Dawson noted how the July 1960 Greensboro sit-ins were led by four Greensboro students and encouraged by the efforts of numerous local and regional leaders; something Dawson supports is deeply tied to the community’s strong educational institutions.
“They didn’t know if they were going to be kicked out of school. They didn’t know if they were going to be hurt. They didn’t know if they were going to be killed, but they did,” Dawson said. “The next day it was 33. Then that day there were 300 students. By the end of the week, 600 students attended from Women’s College, Guilford College, Greensboro College, and a majority from A&T and Bennett. They were all people who pushed themselves to the maximum of their potential.