Posted June 12, 2024

Temple University commemorates Juneteenth with special programs, art activities and a film

Community-engaging events highlight the historical significance of June 19 and Temple’s ongoing commitment to equity and inclusion.

Photography By: 
Ha Tran
A screening of the film “Origin” is part of the special programming for Temple’s celebration of Juneteenth

Temple University will present engaging and educational programming to commemorate Juneteenth, the day in 1965 when enslaved Africans in Texas learned they were free, two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. 

A series of group activities offered free of charge to participants is a hallmark of the university's holiday celebration. The program includes sharing a history of the commemoration, encouraging children from the North Philadelphia community to engage in artistic expression with faculty from Temple’s Tyler School of Art and Architecture and bringing faculty, staff and our neighbors together for a film screening. 

“Celebrating Juneteenth marks a pivotal moment in American history when the promise of freedom was announced to enslaved Africans in the former Confederacy,” said Valerie Harrison, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion and community impact. “It serves as a powerful reminder of the resilience and contributions of African Americans and underscores Temple’s ongoing commitment to equity and inclusion. By honoring Juneteenth, we recognize the struggles and triumphs of the past and inspire a more just and inclusive future for everyone.” 

Children are invited to Temple’s Center for Anti-Racism at Mazur Hall on June 19 beginning at 10 a.m. Tyler faculty will lead the children in a crafts activity until about 11:30 a.m.  

The center will open its doors to faculty, staff, and other interested community members at noon on the same day for a screening of the film Origin. The film is a 2023 American biographical drama written and directed by Ava DuVernay. It is based on the life of Isabel Wilkerson, played by actress Aunjanue L. Ellis-Taylor, as she writes the book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. Throughout the film, Wilkerson travels throughout Germany, India and the United States to research the caste systems in each country’s history. 

After the screening, center Director Timothy N. Welbeck and Associate Vice President and Chief Inclusion Officer Tiffenia Archie will lead a film discussion. All are welcome.  

“Today’s celebration of Juneteenth at Temple University is not just a commemoration of the past, but a commitment to fostering understanding, unity and progress in our community,” said Welbeck, also a professor in the Department of Africology and African American Studies. “By engaging in these meaningful activities, we honor the resilience and contributions of African Americans, inspire the next generation through artistic expression, and encourage critical discussions that pave the way for a more equitable future. It’s a day to reflect, learn and unite in the spirit of freedom and justice for all.”