A Celebration of Juneteenth banner

“Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.  Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863...

The celebration of June 19th was coined "Juneteenth" and grew with more participation from descendants. The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members…

A range of activities were provided to entertain the masses, many of which continue in tradition today. Rodeosfishingbarbecuing, and baseball are just a few of the typical Juneteenth activities you may witness today. Juneteenth almost always focused on education and self-improvement. Thus, often guest speakers are brought in and the elders are called upon to recount the events of the past. Prayer services were also a major part of these celebrations…

Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. As it takes on a more national, symbolic and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all of the roots tie back to this fertile soil from which a national day of pride is growing.” – Juneteenth.com

The Pitt community is encouraged to actively engage in the recognition and celebration of Juneteenth.  A selection of programs and activities, open to all, are detailed below for consideration.

We welcome you to submit a video reflection in response to the question, "What Does Juneteenth/Black Liberation Mean To Me?" Please review the video submission guidelines and tips to ensure the best quality submission.

Review this guide created by the University Library System to commemorate Juneteenth.

From Slavery to Freedom Film Series: 13th

Join the Senator John Heinz History Center’s African American Program for an online screening of “13th” on June 14, as part of the 2021 From Slavery to Freedom Film Series presented by the African American Program of the Heinz History Center in partnership with the Frick Environmental Center of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

“13th” is documentary by Ava DuVernay that discusses the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which allows slavery and incarceration in America based on crime. This produces the prison industrial complex and criminalization of African Americans.

This film challenges to notion of freedom in America and the ramifications of loophole in the Amendment that allowed for re-enslavement in the Jim Crow era and beyond.

A panel of legal and historical experts, including Attorney Martha Conley, historical activist Ronald B. Saunders, and University of Pittsburgh Law Professor Jerry Dickinson, will discuss the film.

Monday, June 14, 2021 | 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Register for From Slavery to Freedom.

Black Emancipation: A History of Celebration 

Freedom celebrations are essential to understanding the history, culture, and politics of the African American experience. While the emancipation from enslavement varied over time and in place in North America, freedom celebrations have been consistently as a source of pride and demonstration of culture. Whether in the Haiti, other nations in the West Indies, or in states in the Unites States, the celebration of Black Emancipation has been serves as a tool to uplift and progress the collective history of Black people.

We encourage you to join our panel as the discuss the history of Black Emancipation celebrations including Juneteenth, and the legacy and impact on the greater Pittsburgh community.


Charlene Foggie-Barnett - Teenie Harris Archive Community Archivist, Carnegie Museum of Art | Vice President, African American Historical and Genealogical Society of Pittsburgh

Laurence Glasco - Associate Professor of History, University of Pittsburgh

Samuel W. Black - Director of African American Programs, Heinz History Center


Oronde Sharif – University of Pittsburgh

Tuesday, June 15 | Noon – 1:30 p.m.

Register for Black Emancipation: A History of Celebration 

CUESEF 2021: Forging Futures Through Black Educational Histories

Co-sponsored by the Heinz Endowments, in CUESEF 2021, we aspire to public study: What can we learn from histories of Black knowledge traditions and educational movements in the U.S.? How do Black communal responses to schools and schooling reflect struggle toward justice and freedom? How do these histories inform and shift our current educational commitments and practices? The Akan people of what is now known as Ghana and the Ivory Coast define Sankofa as a return to the past to move forward. Our theme invites historians to join us in exploring Black educational imaginations over time as essential to forging futures of self-determination, collective responsibility, and freedom. This year's focus on Black education traditions assumes Blackness as expansive and not a category exclusive of ethnic and cultural realities. Participants will engage dynamic historian dialogues, study groups, and webinars to foster thinking about the reparative practices and systems that rectify ongoing educational injustice and inequity and build futures.

Wednesday, June 16 – Saturday, June 19 | 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Register for CUESEF 2021

From Swing Low To Strange Fruit: The Sounds Of Liberation

“From Swing Low to Strange Fruit” is a Juneteenth retrospective of the music of African American culture.  From the laments of spirituals to songs of pride, protest and freedom, music has been a major means of communication in Black culture. It has been the soundtrack of plans of escape from enslavement to celebration of freedom, and protest discrimination, lynchings, and police brutality. Featured acts will include gospel choirs, soloists and hip-hop artists.

Friday, June 18 | Noon – 1 p.m.

Register for Swing Low