Juneteenth is the oldest national celebration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth honors June 19, 1865, the date enslaved people in Texas learned they were free—more than two years after the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth National Independence Day a federal US holiday. It becomes the first federal holiday established since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.
In communities on campus at UC Berkeley and across the nation, Juneteenth is an opportunity for celebration. We honor the proud legacy of our Black ancestors throughout this nation’s history and come together in exultation of Black life.
In celebrating Juneteenth, we also ask our alumni community to reflect and to act. Reflect: On what we, individually and collectively, can do to further a just, equitable, and right United States of America. Act: Take real, visible steps toward this goal.
Berkeley is commemorating Juneteenth in many ways. A list of Berkeley-based resources for celebration, education, reflection, and action are below.
. . . Just Like Music . . . 2021 Juneteenth Showcase
Celebrate Juneteenth in concert with special guests Griot B and spoken word artist Tia Nache.
Presented by the Black Staff & Faculty Organization and the Berkeley community
June 17, 2021, 7 p.m. PT, virtual, free
The June 19th Dialogues: Stories and Histories from the Black and Asian Communities
June 19 also has significance for Asian Americans: it marks the 1982 death of Vincent Chin, targeted and murdered for looking Japanese. Do these events simply represent a coincidence of history, or do they give us the opportunity to look deeper at the connected struggles of Black and Asian Americans? To meditate on the fragile flux between liberation and loss?
Presented by the Berkeley Chinese Alumni International Association (BCAIA)
June 19, 2021, 10 – 11:30 a.m. PT, virtual, free
The Roots of Structural Racism: Residential Segregation in the US
A half-day forum details how widespread and harmful racial residential segregation remains today, why it matters, who it impacts, and what can be done to reverse this dangerous trend and promote integration.
Presented by the Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley
June 22, 2021, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. PT, virtual, free
Harmony Holiday ’04 explores Black male vulnerability in this one-man play constructed around the rarely acknowledged five suicide attempts of writer and intellectual James Baldwin.
Presented by the Hammer Museum at UCLA
June 24, 2021, 7 p.m. PT, virtual, free
One of the first feature films directed by an African American woman, Kathleen Collins’s Losing Ground (1982) is an artful and complex depiction of the inner lives of Black women.
Presented by BAMPFA
On demand, virtual, free
Oakland-based educators Blake Simons ’16 and cohost Delency Parham launched the Hella Black podcast in 2016 to uplift Black community organizers.
Fiat Vox: Fred DeWitt
“George Floyd never wanted to be in my art,” says the Berkeley MFA student and first artist-in-residence in the Department of Art Practice at UC Berkeley.
400 Years of Resistance to Slavery and Injustice
An interactive timeline organized by the Othering & Belonging Institute, the African American studies and history departments, the African American Student Development Center, and the Black Staff & Faculty Organization.
Black Cultural History at Cal: Sun Ra, James Baldwin, and More
A selection of past speakers and cultural events hosted at Berkeley.
Ibram X. Kendi: How to Be an Antiracist
In his award-winning book by the same name, Kendi holds up both a magnifying glass and a mirror to examine how to uproot racism from society—starting with ourselves.
Presented by the Othering & Belonging Institute
Michelle M. Wright: Using Time to Represent Blackness
Drawing on the history of theoretical physics and concepts of race, gender, and sexuality in African diasporic writing, Wright shows how a “physics of blackness” is necessary for writing accurately and inclusively about Blackness, arguing that the complexity of Black identities is poorly served by traditional representations of time.
Presented by BAMPFA
A Discussion on Reparations: California and Beyond
The passing of AB 3121 prompted new discussion about reparations, including their role in the ongoing struggles for racial justice, policy implications, and methods for implementation.
Presented by Berkeley Law
Willie Brown Oral Histories
Two interviews from the UC Berkeley Oral History Center tell a remarkable life story.
California Magazine’s Black Voices Issue
Read the entire issue cover to cover, including: a roundtable discussion with Black students, faculty, administrators, and alumni on making Black Lives Matter at Berkeley; Wednesdays at ‘the wall’; astrophysicist/artist/activist Nia Imara; poet and MacArthur Fellow Fred Moten; and NBA G League president Shareef Abdur-Raheem.
The Other Madisons: The Lost History of a President’s Family, Bettye Kearse ’65
When Kearse became the family griotte, or storyteller, she went in search of more information about her family history. Her memoir recounts a decades-long journey to learn about the lives of her enslaved and white slaveholder ancestors, and to make greater peace with the legacy of violence and the spirit of resilience that run through her family line.
Don’t Let It Get You Down, Savala Nolan J.D. ’11
A new and powerful essay collection covering race, class, bodies and gender in America today.
The Wombs of Women, Françoise Vergés ’95
Françoise Vergès traces the history of French colonial intervention in Black women’s wombs during the slave trade and postslavery imperialism as well as in current birth control politics.
Juneteenth: African American History in the History Department
15 books on the history of Black America produced by UC Berkeley historians.
Join an Alumni Community
Black Engineering and Science Alumni Club (BESAC)
BESAC’s mission is to improve the opportunities and support for Cal Black alumni, students, professors, and staff in engineering and sciences and to bring UC Berkeley alumni together in organized efforts to benefit the members of the chapter and UC Berkeley.
West Oakland Mural Project and Mini Museum
A community art project honoring the women revolutionaries of the Black Panther Party.
Saturday, June 19, 2021, free – $12.50
Black Liberation Walking Tour
A community-led project celebrating 100 years of Black history and culture in Oakland’s Hoover-Foster neighborhood.
Saturday, June 19, 11 a.m., donation-based