UIW Community Comes Together to Celebrate Juneteenth

July 6, 2023

“Alone we can do so little, together we can change the world”

There was an incredible sense of togetherness at the third annual Juneteenth celebrations at the University of the Incarnate Word. The combined efforts of the As One We Will student organization, Mission and Ministry, UIW Health Services and more campus partners culminated in a wonderful event which drew guests from both the UIW and San Antonio communities.

The theme for this year’s event focused on health and wellness in Black and minority communities and included an information fair featuring health screenings with the UIW’s health professions programs, Black owned businesses that champion wellness, and information on becoming more involved with activism. UIW’s Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Arturo Chavez said regarding this year’s focus, “we wanted the health fair and panels to identify best practices, advocacy, and social action that can foster greater equity and community wellness. The goal was to increase knowledge and awareness of racism as a public health crisis that negatively impacts the health and well-being of African American and other communities.”

Guest at this year’s event were able to enjoy a health-conscious lunch as they perused the info tables sampling Special Leaf teas, learning about social initiatives with Mujeres Marcharan Coalition and Radical Registrars, and receiving health and wellness information from the Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation, Black Swan Yoga, UIW Community Health Education and the Ila Faye Miller School of Nursing and Health Professions. The focus on health continued into a panel discussion on the importance of Black English in healthcare settings. The program also included the soaring sounds of the Gospel Praise Team under the leadership of Director Glynis Sims-Bonds. The event concluded with powerful poetry recitations from Jess Mahogany and UIW’s own Coach Amber Cunningham of the women’s basketball team.

When reflecting on the importance of Juneteenth celebrations, Dr. Chavez noted, “Our UIW Mission is about forming leaders who are enlightened and active citizens in our global community. Juneteenth and other concrete opportunities to learn about the social justice imperatives of our Mission must be an essential part of our educational formation.” In the days leading up to the event, the organizers noted that while Juneteenth is a federal holiday that the UIW community has off, they called for people to view it as “a day on” and celebrate with action. And on an afternoon in June in UIW’s Student Engagement Center, almost one hundred people chose to observe Juneteenth by actively coming together to celebrate and learn.

In looking to the future, one can hope that as these events continue, the motto on the T-shirts worn by the event committee at this year’s event will ring true: “Alone we can do so little, together we can change the world.”