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Commemorating Juneteenth at UC San Diego

Flyer that reads: UC San Diego Juneteenth Celebration 2023.

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Celebrated on June 19, Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. At UC San Diego, the university is honoring the holiday with a series of events ranging from a daylong community celebration to a symposium centered around enhancing the Black student experience.

Juneteenth—also known as Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day and Freedom Day—marks the day in 1865 when Union Army General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce that the last of the enslaved people in the Confederacy were free. That news was shared nearly two and half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.

Historic image of Emancipation Day, June 19, 1900.
Emancipation Day, June 19, 1900

“Juneteenth is an important recognition of a pivotal moment in our nation’s history. It offers all of us the opportunity to come together to acknowledge and honor the diverse, lived experiences of the Black community,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “It also is a time to reaffirm our collective commitment to actively combating racism and discrimination on our campus and beyond.”

Across the country, this historic event is memorialized with festivals, family gatherings and more–all opportunities to honor Black history and culture and continue focusing on the progress and liberation of Black Americans. On campus, the Juneteenth event lineup will explore the importance of the holiday, celebrate Black excellence and center ways in which all communities can observe, reflect and educate in commemoration. 

Students stand next to King Triton statue.
A group of students take a photo near the King Triton statue on campus. Photo by Erik Jepsen.

“At its core, Juneteenth represents ‘freedom’ for Black people born out of structural oppression with the abolishment of slavery. However, the reason that this celebration must exist at UC San Diego is because knowing and understanding Black history is critical in order for all communities to thrive,” said Davyda Johnson, chair of the UC San Diego Black Staff Association. “We must tell our stories and acknowledge the resilience of our ancestors so future generations can be proud, regardless of the circumstances.” 

The celebration events are being hosted in collaboration with organizations across campus and the city, including UC San Diego Park & Market, Black Staff Association, Black Resource Center and the Epstein Family Amphitheater.

Students, staff, faculty and community members are all invited to join in the following events, running from June 18-21. 

UC San Diego Juneteenth Celebration 2023: A Celebration of Black Art, Music and Community

Sunday, June 18

From noon to 7 p.m., visit UC San Diego Park & Market for special activities such as a Black-owned business market and a panel discussion that will explore the meaning of liberation in the 21st century. There will be live music throughout the day, concluding with a Neo Soul performance by talented San Diego musicians. The celebration is free and open to the public; there will also be complimentary food and beverages. Get door to door access from campus to UC San Diego Park & Market by picking up the Blue Line Trolley at the UC San Diego Central Campus Station, adjacent to the Epstein Family Amphitheater.

San Diego Black Artist Collective Presents: Get On Board

Monday, June 19

Presented at the Epstein Family Amphitheater, Get On Board is a journey through the evolution of Black music. During the free event at 7:30 p.m., audiences will explore the cultural traditions that Black communities carry through music and how these traditions educate and encourage future generations through their own tribulations. The show–which was originally performed at the La Jolla Playhouse’s Without Walls Festival–will feature a selection of local artists, as well have food and beverage options available for purchase. 

3rd Annual Juneteenth Celebration and Black Excellence Awards

Tuesday, June 20

Hosted by the UC San Diego Black Staff Association, the 3rd Annual Juneteenth Celebration and Black Excellence Awards will honor the rich traditions of Black culture, excellence and the distinctive works of award recipients. The theme for 2023 is “Hip Hop, Liberation & Kujichagulia,” which will focus on education, signature dishes and the historical relevance of soulful music. The annual event will take place at Price Center East Ballroom from 2 to 4 p.m. and will include complimentary food, entertainment, opportunity drawings and more.

Enhancing the Black Student Experience Symposium Closing Activity & Workshop

Wednesday, June 21

This symposium, which runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., has been carefully curated to start conversations on how decolonization might enhance the Black student experience at UC San Diego. Keynote speaker Professor Stephen Quaye from The Ohio State University will be facilitating a workshop centered on reimagining how to support Black students. The event will take place at The Forum in Price Center East.

To learn more about UC San Diego’s Juneteenth celebrations, please visit

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