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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Robbins announces UA Juneteenth celebrations, new program dedicated to racial justice

Amy Bailey

The University of Arizona has sent out several statements about COVID-19 and how the administration plans to prevent a widespread outbreak on campus.

University of Arizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins announced the school’s plans to celebrate the federal holiday Juneteenth in an email to students on Monday, June 13.

Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in 1865 and was declared a federal holiday by President Joe Biden last year. 

In his email, Robbins said that the UA is the Freedom sponsor of the Tucson Juneteenth Festival. The annual event was held on Saturday, June 18 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at John F. Kennedy Park. 

Robbins also announced the creation of a year-long program, Beyond Juneteenth, which is dedicated to educating the community and establishing an ongoing conversation on racial justice in the Southwest region. 

Robbins said in his email, “Our observance of Juneteenth will go beyond marking this single historic day and will illuminate and celebrate the history of African Americans in the Southwest and the impact Black Americans have had in shaping our state and our region.”

The Beyond Juneteenth program is led by a committee of about a dozen faculty members, staff and students and co-chaired by Tyina Steptoe and Treya Allen

“We came up with the name Beyond Juneteenth as a way of saying that we are looking at that history of June 19, 1865, but we’re also going to push ahead and talk about the legacy of the holiday in the Southwest,” Steptoe said. 

The committee partnered with KXCI 91.3, a radio station in Tucson, to air interviews hosted and produced by Bridgitte Thum. These interviews were aired throughout the weekend leading up to Juneteenth and featured members of the community picked by the committee. 

On June 18 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Steptoe hosted her weekly radio show on KXCI 91.3, Soul Stories, and dedicated it to Juneteenth. 

The university is also hosting a webinar panel consisting of Black scholars centered on the theme “Getting to Know Black Arizona” on Monday, June 20 at 12 p.m. 

The webinar will feature Black faculty from different departments on campus such as German studies, educational policy studies and practice, Africana studies and immunobiology. 

“It’s diverse people from across campus, part of that idea of introducing people more to what Black communities here in Arizona are doing and we decided to start with our own academic community,” Steptoe said. 

In the coming months, Steptoe said that students can anticipate a website with more information, resources and celebrations of the Black UA community. 

“I do hope that this also helps to give all of these newcomers who are moving to Tucson from other places, as well as people who were born and raised here in Arizona, a stronger sense of community here in southern Arizona,” Steptoe said. 

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