Performances, food, vendors and trivia: This year’s Juneteenth celebration at William & Mary will feature something for everyone.

The university will host its fourth annual Juneteenth celebration on June 18 from 10 to 1 p.m., with the program set to begin at 11 a.m. The event, to be held in the Sadler Center’s Chesapeake and Tidewater rooms, is free and open to both the campus community and the public. Parking will be available in the Zable Stadium parking lot.

“We are excited for our Juneteenth Celebration and for William & Mary to once again partner with the Williamsburg Community Consortium for an action-packed week devoted to educational and cultural awareness, celebration and fellowship as we reflect on the significance and meaning of freedom,” said Chon Glover, chief diversity officer and co-chair of W&M’s Juneteenth Committee.

Highlights of the program include Black history trivia, a performance by the Neika Simone Band and poetry from Slam Connection and William & Mary student Shawna Alston ’25.

According to her website, Neika Simone is a songwriter, performer and music teacher who focuses on jazz. A resident of Richmond, Virginia, she attended Elizabeth City State University for her undergraduate degree and Norfolk State University for her Master of Music Education degree. She was inspired by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and has performed with such bands as Left Turn Right Dance Band and Fourway.

Based in Williamsburg, Virginia, Slam Connection is a nonprofit organization that performs spoken word and poetry. According to its website, the group aims to “build a foundation for poets to serve their community with their craft by encouraging healthy discourse, empowering youth, living people and spitting bars.”

In addition to programming, W&M’s Juneteenth event will also offer a variety of vendors and food options, with attendees receiving a complimentary ticket for a few, select food items.

Belonging is among William & Mary’s core values, and the university strives to create a welcoming community that embraces diverse peoples and perspectives. In addition, democracy is one of the four core initiatives of the university’s Vision 2026 strategic plan, and part of its aim is to help tell the nation’s full history.

Juneteenth is held on June 19 to commemorate the day in 1865 on which enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, received word of their freedom — two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. It became an official Virginia state holiday in 2020 and a federal holiday in 2021. William & Mary hosted its first virtual Juneteenth celebration in 2021 and its first in-person event the following year.

This year’s event is one of a number taking place in the Greater Williamsburg area in June, all coordinated through the Juneteenth Community Consortium. W&M’s Juneteenth event is coordinated annually by a committee that includes representatives from the university and community.

More information is available on the W&M Juneteenth website.

, Senior Associate Director of University News