New Mexico State University’s Black Programs in the Office of Equity, Inclusion and Diversity will team up with the NAACP of Doña Ana County, the NMSU Library and the NMSU Music Department to host several events to recognize and celebrate Juneteenth.

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, marks the date in 1865 when the last enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, received the news of their freedom, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln. 

“Since then, Juneteenth has been celebrated across the country as a day of joy, reflection and resilience and now it is recognized as a federal holiday,” said Bobbie Green, president of the NAACP of Doña Ana County. “I am thrilled that the NAACP of Doña Ana County and various organizations at NMSU, including Black Programs, the Music Department and the NMSU Library, have joined forces to commemorate Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated observance of the abolition of slavery in the United States. We hope to not only educate, but also to entertain and empower students and community members.”

NMSU’s Black Student Association will kick off the festivities Friday, June 14, with a community barbeque from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Corbett Center Student Union outdoor stage on the Las Cruces campus. The barbeque is free and open to the public. Charles W. Smith III will be the featured speaker. Register to attend here.

NMSU’s Black Programs, the NMSU Music Department and the NAACP of Doña Ana County will then jointly host a Juneteenth gospel showcase from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 15, at NMSU’s Atkinson Recital Hall, followed by a Juneteenth banquet from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Las Cruces Convention Center.

The showcase will feature university choirs, local churches, community members and a special appearance by gospel recording artists The Divine Souls. The concert is free and open to the public. 

The banquet will feature keynote speech by Mitch Boyer, a distinguished historian and descendant of the first African Americans who lived in New Mexico. Tickets are $75 per person and may be purchased online. 

“Launching of a Legacy: Black Programs and Community,” an exhibit curated by NMSU alumna Lauretta King, will open Wednesday, June 19, at NMSU’s Branson Library. A public opening reception will take place beginning at 2 p.m. on the fourth floor of Branson Library.

The exhibit chronicles the 50-year history of NMSU’s Black Programs. King curated the collection over two years into 11 series and 151 folders, housed in 19 archival boxes in Branson Library’s Archives and Special Collections. The vast array of memorabilia includes operation files, correspondences, financial documents, events, assessments and reports, and other records from student groups within Black Programs. 

“The Black Programs Collection serves as a tangible record of the existence of an active African American student community at NMSU over a 50-year period,” King said. “But the collection is not only for and about the African Americans experience. Although the project focuses on the Black experience, my interest in historical preservation is all-inclusive.”

NMSU’s Men of Color Initiative will host a Juneteenth dance workshop, led by Soriba Fofana, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. June 19 in Rentfrow Hall, Room 103A. The workshop will delve into the history of African dance, and Fofana will guide participants through simple but expressive dance choreography. Participants should wear comfortable clothes and shoes and bring enough water to stay hydrated. For more information, contact Patrick Turner at 678-576-2342 or .

Juneteenth festivities will conclude with a Jazz Cultural Series, hosted by NMSU alumnus and professional jazz artist Derrick Lee. The schedule is as follows:

Thursday, June 20:

Juneteenth Jazz Jam at Amador Live, 302 S. Main St.,7 p.m.

Friday, June 21:

Tony Trejo and the Tenia Nelson Trio at Plaza de Las Cruces,100 N. Main St., 4 to 7 p.m.

Saturday, June 22:

Lush Life Quintet at the Branigan Cultural Center, 501 N. Main St., 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The BAM Showcase at NMSU’s Atkinson Hall,1075 N. Horseshoe Circle, 7 p.m.

Sunday, June 23:

Soledad Canyon at Thomas Branigan Memorial Library, 700 E. Picacho Ave., 1 p.m.

Joe Dunn Big Band at Plaza de Las Cruces,100 N. Main St., 8 p.m. 

For more information about Juneteenth events, contact NMSU Black Programs at  or 575-646-4208. 

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