University of Arizona honors Juneteenth through designation as a paid holiday, and more


Olivia Malone

2023 marks the first year that the University of Arizona will recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday, just one of the initiatives the UA is taking to honor the historic date.

Sam Parker

This will be the first year that Juneteenth will be observed as a paid holiday at the University of Arizona, and the school is implementing a variety of other initiatives to honor the day.

Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 that federal troops came to Galveston, Texas, and announced both the end of the Civil War and the freedom of every person who was enslaved. The day was made an official federal holiday on June 17, 2021, and UA President Dr. Robert C. Robbins announced in June 2022 that it would become an official university holiday as well. 

According to an email sent to the UA community by Lehman Benson, vice president of Black Advancement & Engagement at the school, the university is planning many initiatives to honor and celebrate Juneteenth this year. 

One of the highlights of the university’s Juneteenth recognition is the “Beyond Juneteenth” initiative, which, according to Benson’s email, “aims to raise awareness of Juneteenth and its significance in our community.”

Part of this initiative is a speaker series that revolves around the theme of Getting to Know Black Arizona” and will feature speeches from Reverend Dr. Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., and Professor Ilyasah Shabazz, a renowned author and the daughter of Malcolm X. 

The capstone event at which these women will be speaking is titled “Beyond Legacy: A Juneteenth Celebration” and will take place at Centennial Hall on Juneteenth, Monday, June 19.

The university is also sponsoring the Tucson Juneteenth Festival, the mission of which is to “bring together communities and people of all backgrounds in celebration of our African American ancestors about the significance of this special day to ensure our future generations build on and continue the knowledge, education, and legacy for future generations to come,” according to the festival’s website

The university offers resources for those wanting to learn more about Juneteenth, with curated reading guides and suggested spots to visit, among other things at

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