Juneteenth celebration creates meaningful conversations and cultural appreciation

In recent years, greater focus has been given to Juneteenth and the many ways to honor its historical significance. The federal holiday commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States and is now an opportunity for communities to recognize the history and celebrate progress and freedom.

Manga Dance groups performing with Oglethorpe faculty and staff on stage at the Juneteenth event.

Manga Dance Company invited attendees to join them on stage at the Juneteenth event.

The Oglethorpe community gathered on June 18 for the Juneteenth Celebration Luncheon, titled “Conversation & Celebrations: A Journey to Freedom.” The event invited attendees to have engaging discussions on topics like inclusive hiring and microaggressions while they enjoyed delicious food from Magnolia Food & Company and a cultural performance from Manga Dance Company. Faculty and staff were encouraged to participate in the interactive event by accompanying the dance group and sharing their responses from table conversations with the larger group.

The event was a collaborative effort between Luetrell Langston ’24, Facilities Operations Coordinator, and Austin Rayford, Director of Equity and

Candid photo of Luetrell Langston wearing black earrings in yellow lettering that reads "Educated Black Queen."

Luetrell Langston ’24 planned the event with Austin Rayford.

Care, with support from Eli Arnold ’06, University Library Director. Arnold helped curate a mini-history exhibit of Black history at Oglethorpe, including a spotlight on Jackie Lankford, Oglethorpe’s first African-American student.

Langston believes that despite Juneteenth’s heavy and traumatic history, it now represents freedom and should be discussed to improve our present-day.

“I am honored to co-chair our third annual Juneteenth celebration with Austin,” says Langston. “Having the OU community come together for lunch and conversations reminds us of the work we must do in ourselves as individuals and as an institution to create brave spaces for everyone.”

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