Aerial view of campus

Lehigh Community Supporting Juneteenth Lehigh Valley Celebrations

Members of the Lehigh Community will be attending and volunteering at the Juneteenth Lehigh Valley’s two signature events.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Taylor Stakes

For the first time since its inception in 2021, when Juneteenth was declared a federal holiday, Juneteenth Lehigh Valley’s festivities will include a parade. And in continuing with its support of Juneteenth Lehigh Valley, members of the Lehigh community will be volunteering at the parade, and attending its musical festival.

The parade on June 19, held in Easton’s Center Square, is one of two of Juneteenth Lehigh Valley’s signature events. The other is a music festival on June 17 at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem. Events are also being held throughout the week, including a Black author’s program at the Bethlehem Public Library, a Black hair/beauty/fashion program at the Sigal Museum in Easton and dining experiences in Bethlehem and Easton.

Karen Britt, president of Juneteenth Lehigh Valley, said the planned events are intended to elevate and acknowledge the day and the “authentic American history” and allow for a celebration for all while educating attendees.

“It is a time of celebrating liberation,” Britt said. “Is the world perfect? No. Do we acknowledge the atrocities of slavery? We don't discount those. But we also want to see what the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans, the Black community, have given to the fabric of this nation. And so, everybody can celebrate.”

Donald Outing, Lehigh's vice president for equity and community, also stressed that the holiday is for everyone.

"All Americans should celebrate Juneteenth because Juneteenth commemorates American freedom," Outing said. "It is a celebration of freedom for formerly enslaved African Americans, who survived some of the worst treatment and yet we continue to believe in and fight for the ideals of American freedom: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Lehigh’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs has a team of volunteers assisting with the parade, which begins at noon on Northampton St. in Easton. Prior to the parade, Lehigh’s Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) will have an information table at Saturday’s music festival.

“We’ll be giving away some swag items just to show that OMA exists, these are some of the programs that we've done throughout the year, and that Juneteenth is something that we support,” Tamara Redfern, the Office of Multicultural Affairs’ associate director, said.

In addition to information tables from groups around the Lehigh Valley, Britt said the festival, which will host musical acts playing R&B, soul, reggae and jazz, will feature food trucks offering a variety of ethnic foods as well as product vendors that include small Black-owned businesses.

Britt praised Lehigh for its support, which began when Juneteenth Lehigh Valley first formed.

“The Office of Multicultural Affairs… [is] definitely a supporter and a sponsor of Juneteenth Lehigh Valley and understanding the importance of the narrative being taught and spoken about,” Britt said. “Lehigh has been an avid and committed sponsor of Juneteenth Lehigh Valley from day one and we appreciate it so much.”

For those interested in volunteering for either of the signature events, visit Juneteenth Lehigh Valley’s volunteer signup page. Lehigh employees wishing to assist with the Office of Multicultural Affairs’ table on Saturday can sign up here.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Taylor Stakes

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