Reflecting on freedom: LBJ School commemorates Juneteenth

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June 21, 2023

In honor of the recently crowned federal holiday, the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin celebrated June 19 with its third annual “Juneteenth Freedom Summit on Freedom Dreams: A Reimagining of Culture, Politics and Law.”

Center for the Study of Race and Democracy (CSRD) Founding Director Peniel Joseph led the three-hour event in the LBJ School's packed Bass Lecture Hall among a cohort of other academic scholars and community leaders to make sense of the holiday’s politics, history, and contemporary policy challenges in Texas and abroad. 

In the days preceding the anniversary, Joseph penned a historical op-ed on Juneteenth for Texas Monthly and an op-ed for CNN, among others.

(L to R: Rudy Metayer, Richard J. Reddick, Amber Payne, Peniel Joseph, Funmi Ogunro, Virginia A. Cumberbatch, Stephanie Lang, and Ya'Ke Smith).

Topics of discussion included the power of narrative storytelling, disrupting systems of power, voting rights, integration, freedom of speech, and a focus on liberating oneself from the past for a brighter future. 

Panelists included Amber Payne, publisher of The Emancipator newspaper; Richard J. Reddick, dean of Undergraduate Studies and senior vice provost for Curriculum and Enrollment at UT Austin; Stephanie Lang, director of Community-Driven Initiatives at the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement at UT Austin; Ya’Ke Smith, associate professor at the Department of Radio-Television-Film at UT Austin; Virginia A. Cumberbatch, co-founder of Rosa Rebellion; Funmi Ogunro, senior film editor at Art Is Cool; and Rudy Metayer, president and executive director of the Texas Black Caucus Foundation. 

The entire discussion can be seen on the LBJ School YouTube channel. To learn more about the Center for Race and Democracy, please visit their website.

The talk was open to the public and about 300 people filled the Bass Lecture Hall inside the LBJ School of Public Affairs. 
The gathering featured a musical performance by RAS (Riders Against the Storm) with musicians Jonathan “Chaka” Mahone and Ghislaine “Qi Dada” Jean. 
The event was sponsored by the LBJ School of Public Affairs, Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, The Emancipator, and Rosa Rebellion.

Photos from the event can be viewed using the arrows below or by visiting the LBJ School's Flickr account.

Juneteenth Freedom Summit, 6.19.23

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