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NEW MEXICO STATE UNIVERSITY

NMSU invites community to Juneteenth celebration June 17

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New Mexico State University invites community members of all ages to gather with Aggies on the Las Cruces campus Friday, June 17, to commemorate a profound moment in American history – Juneteenth – with an evening of live music, poetry and guest speakers.

NMSU’s Juneteenth celebration, now in its third year, will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Corbett Center Student Union outdoor stage. The event is free and open to the public.

Juneteenth marks the date in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news of the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of slavery in the United States. It is now a federal holiday officially observed on June 19.

The theme for this year’s event at NMSU – “Remember a Legacy to Continue the Journey” – calls on Aggies and the greater community to reflect on the past to create a better future, said Patrick Turner, who chairs the university’s Juneteenth organizing committee.

“Juneteenth not only celebrates African American freedom and achievement but also advocates for continuous self-development, justice, equity, inclusivity and respect for all cultures,” said Turner, associate provost for student success and director of NMSU’s Men of Color Initiative.

Turner added, “It’s not just a celebration for Black folks because it’s not just Black history – it’s American history.”

NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu will kick off Friday’s event with opening remarks. Doña Ana County Manager Fernando Macias will deliver the keynote address, and NMSU’s general counsel, Roy Collins III, will speak about Juneteenth from a historical perspective. Collins hails from Galveston, where Juneteenth originated.

The event also will feature live music from the Las Cruces soul band Fanny Pack Bradas, dance and poetry performances, and a rendition of the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” sung by NMSU alumna Hunter Stewart.

The festivities will conclude with a candlelight vigil honoring the many Black lives lost to racial injustice.

“If people walk away with anything, I want them to walk away having a great time, but also understanding that we’re all in this together,” Turner said. “It’s going to take all of us to be able to move this forward if we’re serious about human rights.”

Turner helped organized NMSU’s first Juneteenth celebration in 2020, following the aftermath of the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, which ignited protests around world. Since then, Turner has used the celebration to bring together people of different backgrounds to advocate for social justice.

“We started the Juneteenth celebration to give people an opportunity to get together with the campus community to talk about equity, justice, equality and diversity,” Turner said. “For us to have real change, it takes everyone. Whether you’re talking about Hispanic rights, Black rights or LGBTQ rights, one group can’t do it alone. All of us have to invest in it.”

Gabriel Bazilio, the president of the NMSU Black Student Association who also sits on the Juneteenth organizing committee, urged his fellow students to join Friday’s celebration.

“This is our time to really put our foot down and demand change,” said Bazilio, an undergraduate student studying kinesiology. “I feel like this Juneteenth event should be fun, but we need to use this time to educate each other and stand up and fight for what we believe in.”

Bazilio added, “This is a great opportunity to not only learn about Juneteenth but also about American history and how to connect with other cultures, other beliefs, other religions, other ideas, and really integrate that into NMSU as a whole.”

Turner said attendees should bring lawn chairs, blankets umbrellas, hats and sunscreen. The Association of Students at NMSU will provide water. The event will also be live-streamed via Zoom at https://nmsu.zoom.us/j/96176715712, passcode NMSUBSA.

The event is a collaboration between the Black Student Association, ASNMSU, Black Programs, the American Indian Program, the Men of Color Initiative and Aggie Welcome and Orientation.

For more information, contact Turner at 678-576-2342 or Kiera King at 505-803-0051.