College of DuPage's Student Newspaper

The Courier

College of DuPage's Student Newspaper

The Courier

Title Art by ADHL
“Eva's World” Page 25
Title Art by ADHL
“Eva's World” Page 24
Title Art by ADHL
“Eva's World” Page 25
Title Art by ADHL
“Eva's World” Page 24

Juneteenth Open House Educates on History and Significance

COD’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion department educated the public on Juneteenth’s history through interactive community activities.
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Areej Khalid
A presentational video on Juneteenth plays at COD’s Open House.

Captivating visuals of historical figures and incidents symbolizing freedom and equality were displayed on the large projectors in accompaniment with audio over speakers about Black American history as students, faculty and staff collected booklets and t-shirts at the College of DuPage’s Jack H. Turner Conference Center.

COD’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) club hosted the open house to kickstart the two-part Juneteenth celebration for this month, the latter half of which will occur on June 18. 

Elizabeth Gómez de la Casa, manager of Intercultural and Latino Student Initiatives, took part in coordinating the event. She said the aim of the event was to provide attendees with knowledge about the destructive history of slavery, so they can better honor the liberation of Black Americans who suffered. The event next week will be more festive in line with Juneteenth celebrations that often include parades and songs. 

“For us, it was important to have this two-part celebration,” she said. “Today, June 13, we’re doing more with teaching and learning. We wanted folks, faculty, students, staff, community to come in and partake in the teaching and learning to know the history and to know a little bit more about Juneteenth and to pick up a T-shirt. We want to make sure that before the celebration next week that folks know more about the celebration.”

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, is the oldest known American holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, originating from when Union troops freed enslaved African Americans in Texas and Galveston Bay on June 19, 1865, roughly two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.  

Moira Lashmet, an anthropology major at College of DuPage, affirmed the significance of Juneteenth.

“The widespread acknowledgment of Juneteenth is important,” she said. “It celebrates a major step in the total emancipation of enslaved people in the United States.”

Divine Nkanga, a student at College of DuPage who serves as the Black Student Alliance (BSA) treasurer, hoped attendees would feel seen. She found the pamphlets to be informative for guests, as well as expressed a liking for the t-shirt design.

“I want people to be more knowledgeable about Black experiences throughout history going forward,” she said. “It’s a bit helpful to understand, and to let other students know that they are heard on campus, and there are people who care about their culture and their problems with racism and discrimination.”

Gómez de la Casa highlighted the community aspect of the open house and how it can contribute to educating the public on important holidays such as Juneteenth. 

“It’s an opportunity to build community among our campus, with students, faculty, staff and other community members,” said Gomez de la Casa “They’re really excited to see that College of DuPage is engaging in this celebration. We coordinate this, knowing that it’s summer, people are off campus, people are taking vacations, but [we are] making sure that we make space for teaching and learning first and foremost.”

Nkanga pointed out that the open house should inspire people to be more curious and inquisitive about different people and their history to enhance their knowledge.

“[I hope for people to be] comfortable with asking questions and being more involved in things not even just related to Black history and Black people, but also cultural and multicultural conversations, being comfortable with exploring other cultures and history to come to a better understanding of the world around you,” she encouraged.

Gómez de la Casa noted that the informational pamphlets handed out to attendees in particular, which the DEI club created in collaboration with DEI director David Swope, aimed to provide a concise and detailed background about the history and significance of Juneteenth. 

“Our goal of giving those out today is for folks to be able to read through this and have a better understanding so that they are truly engaged in this operation.”

Nkanga remarked that her having previously studied African American history in depth gave her extensive foreknowledge about Black history and made her passionate about being involved in related events.. 

“I remember back in high school I took an African American history class,” she said. “And I think that was really helpful for broadening my understanding of the experiences of Africans in America. I was born in Congo. So I understood that I would experience what it’s like to be Black, but I don’t know the history of it in this country. I think it was very helpful.” 

Lashmet stressed the relevance of Juneteenth and Black history in our modern day. 

“The devastating legacy of slavery and racism impacts America to this day,” she said. “Juneteenth provides an opportunity for remembrance of our past, and realization of our present.”

Gómez de la Casa stressed the importance of advocating for justice for all. 

“We’re not free until we’re all free,” she said. “That’s really important for people to know.”

Students are invited to the Teaching and Learning Luncheon Celebration on Tuesday, June 18 from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. at the MAC Lakeside Pavilion, which will feature live music and other activities. COD is closed on Wednesday, June 19, in observation of the actual holiday.

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