Project Success Coalition’s Juneteenth Festival to Celebrate Black Joy

OGDEN, Utah – Project Success Coalition is partnering with Weber State University and other organizations to present Utah’s 32nd Juneteenth Freedom & Heritage Festival.

Juneteenth is the oldest celebration marking the end of slavery in the U.S. Two and one-half years following the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, word of freedom reached those enslaved in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865. A huge celebration of freedom followed, cementing this date in U.S. history. 

Project Success Coalition is excited to host this year’s event at the Ogden Amphitheater to help kick off their summer series of outdoors events. The festival will also include some virtual events. 

 “We have experienced far too many devasting events and threats upon the principals and foundations of our democratic beliefs about “We the people,” justice and equality, said Betty Sawyer, Utah Juneteenth director and Ogden NAACP president. “Juneteenth is a time for celebration, education and civic engagement. It is a time for us to renew our commitment to justice and to engage in the needed work to bring about positive change.” 

This year’s festival is centered on the theme “Black Joy.” The theme was chosen to inspire hope, rest and renewal, both personally and among families and communities across the state. It represents the call to reflect on where the nation has been and what citizens want for the future.

“Without fully addressing the legacy of slavery and the byproducts of discriminatory policies that have followed, we waste time and resources on denying truth and trying to rewrite history versus collectively working to make meaningful progress dismantling those unjust systems,” Sawyer said. “Instead, our call to action is that we begin now to build systems and policies that promote and reward a more just and equitable society for all. The spirit of Juneteenth embodies those principles. We can celebrate and do the heavy lifting at the same time, as our ancestors taught us.”

In 1980, Texas became the first state to declare Juneteenth a state holiday. In 2016, with the passage of HB338, sponsored by Rep. Sandra Hollins and Sen. Alvin Jackson, Utah officially recognized Juneteenth as a state holiday. Juneteenth is a state holiday or day of observance in 47 states and work is underway to have it recognized as a federal holiday. 

To sign a petition in support of Juneteenth as a federal holiday, visit Juneteenth.us. Citizens can also contact congressional leaders and encourage them to sign H.R. 1320 and S. 475, Juneteenth National Independence Day Act this 117th Session of Congress.

Calendar of Events

-June 11, State of Black Utah Town Hall Meeting at 6 p.m.

Hosted by the Utah Black Roundtable, the evening will include a look at Education Equity and viewing of the locally produced documentary “Beloved Community Project” with a discussion to follow. Panelists include Marian Howe-Taylor, Rev. France Davis, Dr. Jackie Thompson, Adrienne Scott-Ellis, Barbara Beard-White, Dr. Clifton Sanders, Deja Gaston and Mother Daisy Eason.

The panel will be held at Weber State University, Davis Campus, Stewart Center Ballroom. The evening will also be available virtually. Upon registering, you will receive a link to join the webinar. Please RSVP as seating is limited.

https://weber.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_7_VfeSdwRL2W4FJuIRZJcg

-June 15, Virtual Film Screening “Nationtime”

“Nationtime” is set at the historic 1972 Black Political Conference in Gary, Indiana. Hear from a host of prominent political leaders and community advocates on the Black Agenda for the upcoming presidential race. “Nationtime” will be streamed at 6 p.m. A post-film discussion will begin at 8:30 p.m. with Rep. Sandra Hollins, Byron Russell, Darlene McDonald, and James Evans. Moderator, Betty Sawyer.

Register at https://watch.eventive.org/utahfilmcenter/play/60a2983dcddb490062d5c05c

-June 18, Salt Lake County Juneteenth Recognition, 9:30 a.m., Join Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson in commemorating Juneteenth Freedom & Heritage along with her commitment to equity and inclusion. Families can experience history and culture with a visit to the Black Museum Bus with all things Juneteenth.

4-7 p.m. South Salt Lake City Juneteenth at the Columbus Center, 2531 So. 500 E. Salt Lake City, Utah.

-June 19, Noon Juneteenth Day! Black Joy, A full day of engagement, celebration and commemoration, honoring the journey to Freedom, both triumphs and tragedies. Featuring national recording artist, Young DRO. Activities also include, Sankofa High School and College Graduate Recognition, Kuumba Youth Activity Village, African Dance and Storytelling, with Ngoma Y Africa Cultural Center, Nubian Storytellers of Utah, and Utah Afro-American Historical & Genealogy Association, and a host of local artist. Activities for all ages in a safe and welcoming environment. 

-June 19, 8 p.m. Juneteenth Virtual Concert with the DEE-DEE DARBY-DUFFIN QUINTET

This event is possible with a partnership with Excellence in the Community Concert Series from the Gallivan Center in Salt Lake City.

-June 20, noon-7 p.m. Juneteenth Father’s Day Tribute featuring the Willie Moore & Billy Mason Barber Battle and Crowns Braiding Competition & “Hood Hero” Awards, honoring fathers who are giving and sharing their time and talents to build community.

Special Guest include, Kansas City Songbird, Zenobia Smith, Shaun Anthony, HJ Entertainment, Los Angeles, CA featuring Tia P, along with recording artist Riyad Hasaan, Soot Noel and Adrien Lamont with hip hop, R & B, spoken word, dance, drumming, & the Bonner Gospel Choir. Free kid’s haircuts from 10 a.m.-noon.  

Visit projectsuccessinc.org for more festival information.

Contact:

Betty Sawyer, Director, Utah Juneteenth Freedom & Heritage Festival
801-644-1402 • projectsuccessinc1@gmail.com

Allison Barlow Hess, Public Relations director
801-626-7948 • ahess@weber.edu

Author:

Betty Sawyer, Director, Utah Juneteenth Freedom & Heritage Festival
801-644-1402 • projectsuccessinc1@gmail.com