‘I think people get scared because it’s talking about slavery’: Weber State students, staff pause to celebrate and honor Juneteenth

Jun 19, 2024, 6:28 PM | Updated: 6:35 pm

Balloons at a Juneteenth celebration at Weber State University. (KSL TV)...

Balloons at a Juneteenth celebration at Weber State University. (KSL TV)


OGDEN — Utahns of all ages, races and backgrounds celebrated Juneteenth on Weber State University’s campus Wednesday.

The federal holiday commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.

Juneteenth is a blend of ‘June’ and “Nineteenth.’ On this day in 1865, enslaved African Americans in Texas learned they were free. The news came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021.

Weber State student Kalijah Robinson said he grew up celebrating the day with his family. The Ogden native said in the last three years, the celebrations have grown.

“Just get with some friends who do celebrate it, kind of get the pointers shown to you so you kind of know how to celebrate it,” Robinson said. “It’s a lot about the civil rights, but it’s also about having fun and coming together.”

Students, staff and faculty members at the block party said they were passionate about everyone celebrating this day.

“I think whether that’s at a barbecue forum or even a formal setting, that’s fine,” said the university’s Black Cultural Center program manager Maryan Shale. “I think what people want people to acknowledge is the history, learning and unlearning certain things and then being able to just bring people together and understand.”

Community members at the celebration said Juneteenth is not only a day looking back on history, it’s one where we look ahead to the future, too.

“I don’t want people to want to take this day and treat it as if it was any other kind of a day,” said retired Weber State Professor Forrest Crawford.

A Juneteenth celebration at Weber State University. (Shelby Lofton, KSL TV)

He played football for the college and graduated in 1975. He said he became a faculty member in 1991. Crawford said he’s seen conversations and celebrations about race change throughout the years.

“I’ve seen Weber State evolve in the number of faculty that we have on campus, the number of students of color that we have on campus, but I’ve also since seen Weber State, particularly in the last two or three years, begin to dissipate in terms of numbers of students, numbers of faculty and professional staff (of color,)” Crawford said. “That kind of concerns me a bit about whether we are starting to take steps backward? Or do we just need to work harder to bring forward to ensure that our faculty and students of color are an integral part of this institution?”

He encouraged attendees to reflect on the history of June 19, 1865.

“I want people to be more reflective, I want them to be more conscientious about why we are doing this and not because a bunch of people say, ‘Let’s get together,'” Crawford said.

He recommended people take a closer look at the Emancipation Proclamation and understand the framework it laid out. He said awareness is not enough; people need to take action to properly honor the historic day.

“You have to act, you have to be something,” Crawford said. “You have to do something. You have to manifest your actions as a result of your awareness.”

Speakers said Juneteenth is not only for the African American community, it’s an American celebration.

“We’re actually just celebrating good news, that’s all it is,” Shale said.

She spoke about how the state’s new diversity law, which bans diversity, equity and inclusion programs and offices at Utah colleges, public education and government offices starting July 1, impacts the students she works with.

“With the changes, we’re still able to celebrate and let students know there is still a presence, there’s still representation,” Shale said. “We’re not just confined to roles and centers. There’s still experiences … We’re going to continue to just do what we can for our students and make sure they feel at home.”

A Juneteenth celebration at Weber State University. (Shelby Lofton, KSL TV)

KSL 5 TV Live

Equality & Diversity

(Google Earth Pro)...

Carlysle Price

Free concert, organization raises awareness of SLC homelessness

Hands of Hope is putting on a free, live music concert on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. to raise awareness of homelessness in the city. According to the Point-In-Time count, the 2023 estimated homeless population was 2,297 people.

22 days ago

!Vamos! Health is celebrating inclusivity and keeping accessible healthcare top of mind by bringing...

Karah Brackin

Grand opening of ¡Vamos! Health

Making steps toward inclusivity, !Vamos! Health is empowering Hispanic, Latino, and minority groups with a clinic in West Valley City.

23 days ago

A new dispenser in the Salt lake County Library Granite Branch offers patrons free period products....

Emma Everett Johnson, KSL.com

Salt Lake County Library offers free period products at all branches

All 18 branches of the county library system now provide free tampons and pads in women's and unisex restrooms, and Baker says this change makes the difference between patrons staying to utilize library services or going home.

27 days ago

Willie Mays was honored by the Salt Lake Bees on Juneteenth after his death Tuesday. (KSL TV)...

Brian Carlson

Salt Lake Bees remember Hall of Famer Willie Mays on Juneteenth

The Salt Lake Bees wore throwback jerseys of an all-African American team from 1906 in honor of player Willie Mays and Juneteenth.

1 month ago

Protestors gather outside the House chambers during a legislative special session at the Utah State...

Bridger Beal-Cvetko, KSL.com

Utah lawmakers vote to block federal protections for LGBTQ+ students under Title IX

Utah lawmakers convened in a special session on Juneteenth to declare the state's intent not to follow a federal rule providing anti-discrimination protections to transgender youth.

1 month ago

An update from the Utah Women & Leadership Project addresses sexual harassment complaints across th...

Alexandrea Bonilla, KSL NewsRadio

Report finds fewer Utah workers experiencing sexual harassment

An update from the Utah Women & Leadership Project addresses sexual harassment complaints across the state and concludes Utah is seeing fewer sexual harassment reports.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

‘I think people get scared because it’s talking about slavery’: Weber State students, staff pause to celebrate and honor Juneteenth